Old-Fashioned Christmas 

What would a Victorian Christmas really have been like? Families worrying about their sons fighting in the Crimean War? A nation's readers consuming the latest Dickens Christmas tale? The holidays, surely, would have been equal parts hard reality and whimsical fancy — exactly as in our own time. Tough facts we've plenty of, thank you; a little more whimsy couldn't hurt. So for a cheering diversion, experience a Victorian Christmas at Tower Grove House (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or www.mobot.org). Henry Shaw's lavish Italianate villa within the Missouri Botanical Garden will be decorated with era-appropriate seasonal wreaths and finery for the month of December. The Christmas-y Tower Grove House is open Tuesdays through Saturdays 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sundays 1 to 4 p.m., through Sunday, January 3, 2010 (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas days). Admission to Tower Grove House is free with your paid garden admission ($3 to $8).
Tuesdays-Sundays. Starts: Nov. 25. Continues through Jan. 3, 2009

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