Oh, the poor poinsettia! She is lauded only once a year, when her beauty colorfully matches the red and green of our holiday dreams. Then she is hidden away, only to bloom again the following December. But isn't this limited exposure what makes Ms. Poinsettia so special? Isn't that why we long for her as we lie by the pool each July? Doesn't she put the perfect touch on our holiday season because she is around only then? Celebrate poinsettias in all of their glory at the Christmas Poinsettia Display at the Jewel Box in Forest Park. The Jewel is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday (call 314-531-0080 for special holiday hours). Admission to see the flowering beauties is only $1, so hurry over there before Ms. Poinsettia hides away again for another year.
Thursday, December 23
Christmas-itis is at a fever pitch right now. The afflicted are immediately recognizable by their nonstop carol singing, their incessant questions about when the gifts will be opened and their persistent searching of the horizon for signs of snow. If you really want to stoke the flames of Christmas-itis, you should take the kids to the Magic House (516 South Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood; 314-822-8900) for another run through Winter Wonderland. The Magic House's annual holiday display features all the fuel for jolly sugarplum dreams, what with the fake snow, the lights, the decorations and the singing snowmen. It's a good way to spend Christmas Eve-eve, as the kids call it, and the Magic House is open an extra hour today, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is $6.50 per person, just in case you have a bad case of the -itis yourself.
Friday, December 24
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, because the creature was over at Wild Country (17 Gateway Plaza, Collinsville, Illinois; 618-346-6775) drowning his sorrows in buckets of Busch. For the forlorn, lonely, unwilling participant in the holiday season, this is a rough time of year. But there are a few places in the metro area that cater to the non-Christmas-celebrating people, and Wild Country is one of 'em. With five bars in twenty-five thousand square feet of space, there's plenty of room to roam or just park it and drink. Wild Country is open from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. this Christmas Eve, and there's no cover to get in.
Saturday, December 25
Prepare to don your wizard's coat and hat: Merlin flies in to Velvet (1301 Washington Avenue) for a special Christmas battle against Steve-O! Magic missiles will sear the air, fireballs and chain lightning spells will char the surroundings, and if Merlin is smart, he'll cast polymorph self and transform into an 800-pound gorilla: Nothing beats an 800-pound gorilla. Wait, hold on -- Ms. Day says that Merlin and Steve-O are actually DJs, not wizards, and that they'll weave a different kind of magic: musical magic. Grooves will be deepened, beats will be hammered and libations shall flow unto oceanic proportions as these two get up and get down. A portion of the money generated from this epic evening benefits Children's Hospital, so be generous with your spending. Check out www.velvetvibes.com or call 314-241-8178 for updates and prices.
Sunday, December 26
If you ever had a chance to correctly answer the questions Sister, the irascible star of Late Night Catechism, asks in her interactive theater/classroom, the day after Christmas would have to be your best bet. The whole month of December is full of church-going, so it's like you were cramming for her show without realizing you were doing any work. Shock her with your quick and (for once in your life) correct answers as she quizzes you on the basics of Catholicism. Those glow-in-the-dark rosaries Sister hands out to smarty-pants who know the answers look sweet, and having one around your neck at Mass next week should go a long way towards making amends for the things you'll be doing on New Year's Eve. Tickets for the 3 p.m. matinee of Late Night Catechism at the Grandel Theater (3610 Grandel Square) cost $42, and you can call 314-534-1111 for more information.
Monday, December 27
Everyone always talks about pairing your meal with a complementary wine. However, no one ever discusses matching both your wine and meal with complementary artwork. But why not? Why do your mouth and nose get to have all the fun? The eyes are part of the face too! Go to Monarch (7401 Manchester Road, Maplewood; 314-644-3995 or www.monarchrestaurant.com) to address this important issue. Match your dinner with some wine (the restaurant did win a 2004 Wine Spectator Award of Excellence), and check out the gallery next door. That's where you'll find the artwork of Carrie Woodson and Justin Tolentino. Doesn't this show sound like something that would perfectly cap off the open lobster ravioli or maybe the porcini-dusted halibut? We think so. Monarch is open for dinner on Mondays from 5 to 11 p.m.
Tuesday, December 28
By this time, you hate your kids. It's OK, that's natural. The little bounders have been crushed under a candy/ toy/all-their-dreams-come-true avalanche: They're monsters. Right now, what you need is a trial separation. Drop your kids off at either the Grand Glaize branch (1010 Meramec Station Road, Ballwin; 314-994-3300) or the Samuel C. Sachs branch (16400 Burkhardt Place, Chesterfield; 636-728-0001) of the St. Louis County Libraries at 2 p.m., and then head out for some private time. At the Grand Glaize Library, they can watch Shrek 2 and then get crafty with some ogre projects; over at the Sachs branch, the kids explore the world of penguins through Penguin Fun stories and crafts. Both events are free, and registration is recommended. Call now to ensure a nice cooling-down period this holiday season.