River City Ballet will present “The Nutcracker” and “Ave Maria” this weekend at the San Marcos High School Performing Arts Center. Photo by Smile House.
BY HAP MANSFIELD
We don’t really mind the crowds of Christmas shoppers, and we don’t mind the driving or the parking. Just get a good CD of Christmas music and sing along happily in the car. Get yourself some fudge. Laugh a little. It’s Christmas.
Nope, the thing we find vexing is the wrapping. We admire beautifully wrapped gifts. We just can’t do them.
For one thing, we’re always wrestling with the big rolls of wrapping paper. Getting that tube of paper out of the plastic wrap takes the best two out of three falls before you win. We waste a lot of the paper over- or under-estimating the amount we’ll need. We don’t waste the paper, though. We make bookmarks with the scraps. Last Christmas, it seemed as if we had enough bookmarks for the Library of Congress.
We don’t seem to ever have enough tape, either. Or ribbons. Or gift cards. To top it all off, we couldn’t wrap a package that looks good if our life depended on it. The present, no matter what it is, always looks like we’re giving the receiver a big wrapped bag of ice. There is always too much tape on our packages because we keep ripping the darn wrapping paper. That must be why we never have enough tape.
When we actually get the package done, it not only looks as if we’d let the dog wrap the present but the bow generally falls off. The name is written on it with marker because we ran out of gift cards. The gift getter is always polite about it, but we know they think we’re either really clumsy or really lazy. We tried, honestly. Must be the clumsy thing.
We are grateful to the folks who make those decorated bags in which one can just dump the present and cover it with a few sheets of tissue paper.
We’re always glad when the wrapping part of Christmas is over, but, quite frankly, there’s quite a stack here that need wrapping. There’s always so much fun stuff to do around here.
Maybe we’ll get to that wrapping thing next week.
What kind of stuff, you may ask? Well, here are just a few suggestions
Friday, December 17
Today at 6 p.m., the San Marcos Nature Center (430 Riverside Drive) will have its enchanted luminaria walk from 6-8 p.m. There will be holiday treats and arts and crafts projects for children and adults. The garden paths will be lined with luminaria for a lovely stroll. The event is free and fun for all ages.
The EmilyAnn Theatre has eight acres full of lighted displays decorated by more than 100 local business, community groups and families. Complimentary marshmallows and hot chocolate await walkers at the Yule Log. Music and entertainments change nightly. The event, is free but donations are welcome to help with the electric bill. The Trail of Lights is open tonight from 6-10 p.m.
The Triple Crown (206 North Edward Gary Street) features Shakey Jake at 6 p.m. The band has a rockin’ southern bluesy feel that will get your weekend started off just right.
Of course, at 7 p.m. ,there’s always the Wimberley VFW’s (Veterans Park on Jacobs Well Road) Friday night bingo game. We say “of course” because it’s a hill country standard. Not so standard, however, are the tasty treats sold by the fine women of the Ladies Auxiliary. Proceeds go towards the post’s many veterans programs, so you’ll be doing a good turn as the basket starts turning.
The popular Firewater Sermon will be at the Gray Horse Saloon 91904 RR 12) tonight around 8 p.m. The band is a local favorite for good reason.
The Circle Arts Theatre (124 Elizabeth Street in New Braunfels) will present “Always, Patsy Cline” tonight at 8 p.m. The show features the music made popular by Cline and a touching play about the correspondence between women with two very different lives, Patsy Cline and Houston housewife Louise Seger. The production serves as a fundraiser for the 42-year-old converted grain warehouse theater, which needs a bit of a facelift.
The Justin Haigh Band will be at the Cheatham Street Warehouse (119 Cheatham Street). If you haven’t seen this band yet, it might be a good time to do it now before it’s playing huge venues where your parking place is a mile away and the tickets are $150 dollars and your seats are back so far the only thing you can see are what appear to be little ants on the stage playing guitars. We most particularly like Haigh’s song “People Like Me.” You’ll probably like it, too.
The Monk has a freshly self-titled release, and we’re betting the band will play many of the songs from it at their gig tonight at the Triple Crown. If you like hard thrashin’ stuff, you will not want to miss it. Also on the bill are Pagan and SBS.
Saturday, December 11
Since it’s the last weekend before Christmas, almost every place you shop today is going to be mobbed. May as well enjoy the crowds and rejoice in the holiday spirit. If you are shopping in New Braunfels today, there is the added plus of Cowboy Kringles Kid’s Workshop (1601 Hunter Road), where parents can drop their kids off to do a Christmas present craft project while they get a little shopping done. The workshop is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and proceeds benefit Communities in Schools.
The Trail of Lights at the EmilyAnn Theatre has a lot of fun things to do beside walk around and see the fabulous displays. There’s a train ride for the kids for only $1 and a toy train display. There are hotdogs for roasting over the fire and hot chocolate to drink and marshmallows for toasting. The lights this year feature three life-sized dinosaurs, too. The trail is open from 6-10 p.m. If you park at Wimberley High School, there’s a lighted path that will connect you to the EmilyAnn. Good to know on a crowded night.
Tonight on the stage at the San Marcos High School Performing Arts Center, you have a chance to see some genuinely world class ballet. The River City Ballet Company’s “Nutcracker” will feature two dancers from the renowned American Ballet Theatre, Kathyn Boren and Calvin Royal III, who will dance as the Snow Queen and Snow King, respectively. In addition to the “Nutcracker” will be an original production, “Ave Maria” choreographed by River City Ballet’s director Keith Duncan. Their production of the “Nutcracker” is a holiday tradition around these parts, and this year they have added a gorgeous snow scene. Tickets are $15 and will be available at the door.
Kyle has its third annual Christmas lights display at Kyle Pool (Gregg-Clarke Park), and it’s fun to watch. After dark, just pull into the pool parking lot facing the pool. Turn off your car lights, tune into 100.1 FM on your radio and enjoy the show. You could even bring your own popcorn.
The Circle Arts Theatre’s production of “Always, Patsy Cline” starts at 8 p.m. tonight. You’ll hear such favorites as “Walkin’ After Midnight, “Crazy,” “Sweet Dreams” and more. Tickets are $25.
You’ll be more than a little impressed with the Cody Riley Band at Cheatham Street Warehouse. Riley is a mighty young man (he’s 17 or 18 years old) to have such a big talent. His voice reminds us a bit of “Kid” Johnny Lang. He’s got a bluesy quality to his rockin’ country tones and his band keeps the music lively. It’s a stand-out gig.
Lost Immigrants will help keep toes tapping at Riley’s Tavern tonight. The Gray Horse features a triple big lineup with Lotus Effect, woolgather, and the ever popular Organics.
The Triple Crown features Christmas with the Beaumonts, those southern rock charmers from Lubbock with special guests Mike and the Moonpies. This, in itself, would be a great gig, but wait, there’s more. It’s the annual Beaumont’s food drive and all sorts of special stuff is in the works. Bring a canned food item to exchange for a raffle ticket and you may be the proud winner of one of more than a dozen cool things like a tandem skydive from Skydive San Marcos or a Fender Telecaster guitar or a free meal from Zen’s Pizza or even a gift certificate for tattoo work, just to name a few. Last year, the Beaumonts collected a whopping 4,500 pounds of food for the Hays County Food Bank. They’re big-hearted guys with a big snarly southern rock sound, too. You may also buy those raffle tickets for $1, by the way.
Sunday, December 19
The Starlight Symphony Orchestra will present a special Christmas performance of Handel’s “Messiah” at First Baptist Church (15951 Winters Mill Parkway in Wimberley) today at 4 p.m. This is a community sing-along, so bring your Messiah score if you have one. There’s nothing quite so thrilling as hearing this work performed by folks standing side by side in a church. Admission is free.
River City Ballet will reprise the “Nutcracker” today at 4 p.m. at the San Marcos Performing Arts Center. The ballet will feature guest dancers from the American Ballet Theatre, as well as River City’s own extraordinarily talented company. An original work, “Ave Maria,” will also be featured. Tickets are $15 and will be available at the door.
The Word of Life Church (400 Old Post Road in Kyle) will feature “A Grand Ole Gospel Christmas” with ten groups performing Gospel Christmas music at 6 p.m. tonight. Admission is free.
The EmilyAnn Theatre’s Trail of Lights will celebrate La Posadas (the Inn) tonight starting at 6 p.m. La Posadas is a re-enactment of Joseph’s search for an inn for Mary. Christmas carols are sung and of, course, hot chocolate will be available. It would be a great night to go out and see the lighted displays there, too.
The Cheatham Street Warehouse will host Gary Floater’s First Annual Holiday High Christmas Ball tonight at 7 p.m. The gig is a benefit for the Hays County Food Shelf, which really does need every benefit it can get. Musical guests will sing the songs of the irrepressible Gary Floater. Admission is one canned food item. Knowing the songs of Floater, we can predict a pretty good time in addition to the good you will be doing.
Your inner songbird or Diva or Willy Nelson may need a place to sing tonight, and, if it does, the mics are open at the Triple Crown and Riley’s Tavern. There is karaoke at the Gray Horse Saloon, too.
The New England Patriots, who lately seem to be kickin’, uh, field goals and takin’ names, will play the Green Bay Packers tonight at 7 p.m. on NBC.
The classic “Miracle on 34th Street” will be on AMC several times in a row tonight. The FX channel will run the delightful “Horton Hears a Who.” ABC is running the Tim Allen Christmas vehicles “The Santa Clause 2” and followed by “The Santa Claus 3” starting at 6 p.m. Ovation network will run the Berlin State Ballet’s version of the “Nutcracker” at 8:30 p.m.
And don’t you have a bunch of presents to wrap, too?