Deck the Halls with Guacamole
Excited about the upcoming holidays? The following events should begin to get you there. Los Angeles has become such a place of wonder and possibility—with great attention to art, architecture, music, dance, and a new overall appreciation of our historic underpinnings, not just here in West Adams but the city over (Manhattan Beach has a historic society—it’s a wonderful world) that it’s rewarding and in fact important to get out there and partake of the excellence going on. You will be inspired and motivated to get your own creative endeavor back on track, in time for the New Year!
Some of the upcoming holiday events are traditional: Outdoor ice skating at Pershing Square, the Christmas tree train in Moorpark; also some of it is cutting edge: The Dysfunctional Family Christmas at the Brickhouse Theater. But the list is by no means exhaustive, so take these as a starting point (Readers, get out your highlighters now), and then go get Googling to catch all the events I missed.
Ukulele Christmas Orchestra
On Friday, December 12, the Music Center is having a Ukulele Christmas Orchestra (beginners and intermediate strummers welcome); if you have a ukulele and play or want to learn, register for $10 soon (limited seating capacity); prepare to sing and strum. www.MusicCenter.org
Music Center Holiday Sing-along
Friday, December 19, 6:30-8 p.m.
Tickets are free to this cozy outdoor event, but they are given out one per person, first come, first served starting at 6:00 p.m. (better get in line early), with lyric sheets provided.
A Christmas Carol is playing in many places, from A Noise Within, to the South Coast Repertory, Long Beach Playhouse, and the Grove Theatre. In addition, a staged reading presenting a new adaptation of A Christmas Carol is part of the Unbound Productions at the Pasadena Museum of History. There’s even A Tuna Christmas, a movie at the Rubicon Theatre about a town putting on A Christmas Carol, and a play about A Christmas Carol gone awry in Inspecting Carol at the Westminster Community Theater. Finally, Center Theater Group is putting on The Second City’s Christmas Carol: Twist Your Dickens! Another purely comedic presentation includes Bob’s Holiday Party at the Pico Playhouse. Then, for some tonic, go to the Morgan-Wixson Theatre for their showing of White Christmas. www.TheatreInLA.com and click on “holiday plays.”
The Griffith Park holiday light experience is back, this time at the Los Angeles Zoo. Areas of the zoo will be transformed into a “fantastical wonderland populated by glowing light animals.” In addition there will be real reindeer, and a visit by Santa. Early bird admission is $8; after December 11, tickets are $13. www.LAZooLights.org
Candy Cane Lanes will be in a couple of different places around Los Angeles. One is in Woodland Hills (no later than 10pm); Torrance offers a Sleepy Hollow Christmas Lights Extravaganza.
The Latina Christmas Special at Theatre Asylum
You thought your holidays with the family are dramatic? Ay! Ay! Ay! Meet three Latina actresses, Sandra Valls, Diana Yanez and Maria Russell, who’ll share their hilarious –– and sometimes muy escandaloso (scandalous) –– stories of Navidades with the family in the short-run play, The Latina Christmas, now bowing at Theatre Asylum, 6320 Santa Monica Blvd. (Hollywood). Valls is a Mexican-American from Texas. Yanez is a Cuban-American from Miami. And Russell is a “Mexiuanian” –– the daughter of an over-dedicated Mexican mother and a Lithuanian father. They are all first-generation Americans who share, on stage, their quirky Christmas experiences and traditions growing up in Latino families. For Russell, Christmas is about delicious tamales and the gifts she was always showered with. Salsa music and sunny weather is Yanez’s holiday heritage, while Valls remembers yearning for “boy toys.” These comedic holiday tales are part of Theatre Asylum’s 2014 Holiday Festival, which also includes the plays Wonderful Life (a reinterpretation of the classic Christmas story that takes place in Bedford Falls), and The Santa Closet, about a little boy who asks Santa for a doll but receives a truck instead. All three plays continue through December. Visit www.theatreasylum-la.com for more information, the schedule(s), and to purchase tickets. Or call 323-962-1632.
Tchaikovsky’s classic ballet “The Nutcracker Suite” is playing at many venues, in many forms, this year, including the Los Angeles Ballet’s classic take as well as “Nutcracker Swings” with the City Ballet of Los Angeles, and a notable “Hot Chocolate Nutcracker” at Royce Hall, featuring young dancers from Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy. I’m also excited about Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater’s Nutcracker, which is touted as a truly eclectic “puppet extravaganza” for both children and adults.
HISTORIC and CULTURAL CELEBRATIONS
There is much to see if your interest tends towards the historic and cultural this holiday.
Holiday Tours at the Homestead
At the Homestead Museum, Saturdays & Sundays, December 6, 7, 13 & 14, learn about how Christmas celebrations changed from the 1840s to the 1920s as you tour the museum’s decorated historic houses. Along the way you’ll meet a character or two who will give a feel for days gone by. Treats served in the Gallery following each tour. Space on each tour is limited; reservations strongly recommended. Tours depart every 30 minutes from 1 to 5 p.m. www.HomesteadMuseum.org/special_tours
Las Posadas at El Pueblo
December 16 through December 24 from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
The evening celebration and reenactment of Las Posadas—Mary and Joseph’s search for lodgings on Christmas Eve—will occur at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument, including a candlelight procession through the shops of Olvera Street, ballet folklorico, and a children’s piñata breaking each evening.
RANCHO CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS
Rancho Los Alamitos –– Holiday Open House
Thursday-Friday, December 18-19, 4-7 p.m.
Enjoy the ranch house’s Yuletide sparkle, the magnificently trimmed tree, mantles and hearths festooned with greens, holiday treats and strolling carolers. www.rancholosalamitos.com/events.html
Dominguez Rancho Adobe Museum
Holiday Living History Afternoon
December 13, 3–5 p.m.
The Adobe is adorned with lights and holiday decorations. The event includes tours led by the Dominguez sisters and their friends, holiday craft making (perfect gifts for loved ones), music and dancing, and appetizers and desserts from Mexico and Spain—then of course, visit Santa! Ask him for whatever your heart desires! www.DominguezRancho.org/upcoming-events/
Rancho Los Cerritos
A Rancho Christmas: Illuminating The Past
Friday & Saturday, December 12 & 13 - 6:30-8:30 p.m.
The adobe home will showcase extravagant decorations and the museum’s collections, with exhibits on Christmas trees, Santa Claus, gift giving, holiday meals, entertainment, charity, and fashion. Enjoy festive holiday music and refreshments, and shop for unique presents at the Museum Shop. Tours embark every half hour, starting at 6:30. Advance registration required. www.rancholoscerritos.org/calendar.html
Breed Street Shul Fiesta Chanukah Celebration
Sunday, December 14 – 2-4 p.m.
Celebrate the Festival of Lights in Boyle Heights with latkes from the Canter’s food truck, music, DIY dreidels & games, Chanukah sweater fashion show by Gelt Fiend, live screen printing by Self Help Graphics, a holiday boutique with gifts of all kinds, a raffle and more! Also be part of the book drive: bring a book to be donated to the local school. www.breedstreetshul.org
Chinatown restaurants are offering Chinese-style roasted turkeys for sale! Prepared similarly to traditional Peking roasted duck, the turkeys have a crispy, seared skin and better-preserved juices than oven-roasted turkeys. Sides such as sticky rice stuffing, or with rice bun, spring onions and hoisin sauce are also available at most Chinatown restaurants. Definitely worth trying this season! www.ChinatownLA.com
Earn Your Tamales, Candy and Cookies
If you feel like some hands-on cooking, check out the cooking classes at the New School of Cooking. On Saturday, December 13, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m., a Candy & Confections class that will have you making “candy and confections like a pro. Each student will produce and leave with a beautiful collection.” On Saturday, December 20, 9 a.m. – 12 p.m., Holiday Cookies class, where they “will make a huge assortment of festive holiday cookies and finish class with an old fashioned cookie swap.” Roll cookies, raspberry thumbprints, molasses chews and peppermint patty brownies are a few choices. I will also add, that if you cannot yourself attend one these classes, one might make an awesome holiday gift for a foodie or chef in your life. www.newschoolofcooking.com/recreational-classes/
OTHER SIGNS OF THE SEASON
Native Plant Sales
It’s time to plant natives, now that the heat of the summer is mostly gone. Theodore Payne Foundation for Wild Flowers and Native Plants will be at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market on Sunday December 7 from 8am-1pm with “a great selection of California native plants plus sage advice from plant expert Lili Singer”! If you’d like them to bring specific plants to the market for you, call them a week before at 818-768-1802. (But don’t buy everything you need: Marius Stelly and I are organizing a West Adams sale and workshop, happening on Saturday, January 31—when you call them, mention how much we welcome this!) http://www.theodorepayne.org/calendar/
Griffith Observatory marks the Winter Solstice with brief talks that occur at noon, 3:03 p.m. PST (which marks the actual time the solstice occurs) and sunset on Sunday, December 21. While there you can see one of the four exciting Planetarium programs at the observatory. www.GriffithObs.org/events/events.html
AND A LAST NOTE: Metro once again is offering free rides on Christmas Eve: all metro rail and bus lines are free starting at 9p.m. on Tuesday December 24 until 2 a.m. on December 25.