Bah, humbug! That familiar phrase will forever be tied to the Christmas season, thanks to the Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Just admit it, you watch the movie, or channel surf between that and It's a Wonderful Life every year, don't you? In case you are one of the very few who aren't familiar with the plot, the story begins on Christmas Eve, a night that Ebenezer Scrooge will never forget.
Broward Center for the Performing Arts brings us a special rendition of this classic Christmas story by Nina and Earl Maulding especially written for family audiences. Watch as Ebenezer Scrooge, a dreadful and stingy man, receives visits in the night from his deceased business partner and three spirits.
Scrooge is not exactly jolly old St. Nick, in case you didn't know, and Christmas to him is a horrible time of year, when well-doers torment him for donations and he is forced to give his long-time employee Bob Crachit a day's pay for no work. With the help of the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, Scrooge sees the error of his ways and makes a complete transformation of the soul. Productions begin December 18 at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts' Amaturo Theater (201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Tickets are available online at http://www.browardcenter.org/html/ticketing.asp or at the Broward Center box office for $15. You also can order tickets by phone at 954-462-0222. Come out and join the ghosts, Crachit, Tiny Tim, and of course Ebenezer Scrooge, for a timeless tale of the meaning of Christmas. Oh, and God bless us every one! -- Beth Kirkpatrick
Breakfast with the Big Guy
Palm Beach Zoo at Dreher Park (1301 Summit Blvd., West Palm Beach) has been offering breakfast with Santa each Saturday and Sunday in December at 8 a.m., but with his big night nearly here, this weekend is your last chance to down a few flapjacks with the chubby dude in red. Kids can enjoy a breakfast buffet, animal encounters, and reindeer that are dressed up for the holidays, but the real opportunity here is the Santa face time. Sure, he probably knows what you want already, but what if you change your mind? Best to let him know sooner rather than later. Admission is $12 for kids age 6 and older, and reservations are required. Call 561-533-0887. -- Dan Sweeney
Attention, chocoholics! Hoffman's Chocolate Shoppe (5190 Lake Worth Rd., Greenacres) has been turned into a chocolate lover's dream. Hoffman's Holiday Wonderland brings the holiday spirit to West Palm Beach with animated displays, gourmet chocolate samples, and a visit from Santa every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The Shoppe's tropical gardens also have been turned into a maze of holiday lights, with more than 300,000 decorating the outdoor foliage. The Hoffman family used to decorate the gardens themselves, but with the competition among the glut of holiday-fantasy-of-lights-type events, they had no other choice -- they had to hire a lighting professional. Check out the holiday wonderland every day from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., through December 31. Admission is free, but donations benefit the Quantum House, which provides housing for families of sick or injured children being treated in hospitals. Call 561-967-2213. -- Audra Schroeder
Because primates need holiday cheer too
Humans aren't the only ones who should get to celebrate the holidays. Sure, you can buy your dog or cat a cute little outfit and make it prance around wearing it for your own sick pleasure, but is that what Christmas is really all about? Lion Country Safari (2003 Lion Country Safari Rd., Loxahatchee) offers a change of pace from the hackneyed tradition of getting your picture taken with someone who looks like Santa but is probably really a 37-year-old ex-con. We all know that monkeys make everything more fun, so why not get your picture taken with one of Lion Country's primates? Christmas with the Chimps includes story time for kids, educational presentations, and crafts. But the highlight occurs when Santa rows on over to Lion Country's Chimp Island to deliver them wrapped gifts. Afterwards, kids can get their picture taken with Santa and one of the chimps. The event starts at 10 a.m. and is free with park admission. Call 561-793-1084. -- Audra Schroeder
The Thought Counts
They say the best gift is one that comes from the heart. They also say Christmas only comes once a year; it's the thought that counts; it's better to give than to receive, and a host of other holiday platitudes. But if you believe even half of them, you'll know that a handcrafted present is often better than store-bought. Kids can make their families such a gift at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood's (1626 Harrison St., Hollywood) Free Family Day. From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, kids decorate picture frames with beads and glitter before receiving a Polaroid snapshot of the family, suitable for framing. Admission is free. Call 954-921-3274. -- Dan Sweeney