With Thanksgiving officially out of the way, we progress on to (sigh) Christmas (look, I don't make the rules). If you're a fan, there's only one place you should be: St. Charles Christmas Traditions
. Historic downtown St. Charles harkens back to an earlier generation's Christmas, with chestnut roasters, carolers and costumed Santas from around the world wandering its brick streets. Following the opening ceremony at 11 a.m. Friday, November 24, at Frontier Park (First Capitol Drive and South Riverside Drive; www.stcharleschristmas.com
), the Santas partake in a parade with their seasonal friends (the parade is repeated at 1:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday 'til Christmas). The Cobblestone Wassailers sing after the parade, followed by the Land of Sweets dance party. You can get in a little shopping or just soak up the atmosphere. St. Charles Christmas Traditions continues from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday through December 24. Those Wednesday nights are also Krampusnachts, when Krampus, the Mouse King and Belsnickel make their appearances — bring your naughty kids and it'll straighten 'em up quickly, before it's too late. Admission is free.