This holiday season, we're launching a new dieting fad we're calling The Charitable Diet. The theory is that if you do all the walks and fun runs between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, you'll burn enough calories to counter all the extra ones you're eating this season. Just imagine: You can eat chocolate mint Hershey's Kisses, pumpkin pie-flavored ice cream, green and red sprinkled sugar cookies and pecan pie with whipped cream and not gain a single pound...or at least keep the weight gain down to five or 10 pounds (we gained one just thinking about those treats). Start the plan with Thanksgiving Day's Turkey Trot, the Dallas YMCA's 37th annual eight-mile race and three-mile fun run/walk, beginning at Dallas City Hall, 1500 Marilla St., at 9 a.m. After the race, there will be live music, pony rides, a petting zoo, a puppet show, arts and crafts, refreshments and more. Registration is $25 the day of the event. Call 214-954-3895 or visit www.thetrot.com. Even if this is the only race you do, you'll still burn enough calories for a second helping of sweet potatoes with brown sugar, butter and marshmallows.
Friday, November 26
We don't care if the Christmas decorations were on sale before the Halloween costumes were on clearance. The official start of the Christmas season is the day after Thanksgiving. It's just tradition. You decorate the tree and line the rooftop with lights. Thankfully, Fort Worth does tradition right. Friday is the 22nd annual Parade of Lights through downtown and Sundance Square. Beginning at 6 p.m., the parade of illuminated marching bands, floats, classic cars, horse-drawn carriages and more will wind from the intersection of Belknap and Houston streets to Main Street between Third and Fourth streets where Santa Claus will flip the switch on Cowtown's 65-foot Douglas fir at 7:45 p.m. The celebration also includes free transportation downtown courtesy of The T and free parking in the Bank One, City Center I and II and Tarrant County Law garages. A new perk this year is seating along the route. Community groups are given blocks of seats to sell to raise funds for their works. See www.fortworthparadeoflights.org
Saturday, November 27
We realized that the holiday spirit was fleeting when we hoped for a Jets versus Sharks brawl between the Chamberlain Ballet and the Repertory Dance Theatre of Texas, both of which are performing their Christmas shows this weekend at the Eisemann Center. We saw buns loosened by fists of glitter-covered fingernails and an aftermath of fake eyelashes and barrettes scattered about. Ladies, to your corners. The Chamberlain Ballet performs The Nutcracker at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday in the Hill Performance Hall. Tickets are $5 to $70. The Repertory Dance Theatre of Texas performs the ballet version of The Night Before Christmas at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Eisemann Center Theatre. Tickets are $15 to $20. The Eisemann Center is located at 2351 Performance Drive in Richardson. Call 972-744-4650 for tickets to both shows.
Sunday, November 28
Just like the president and vice president don't ride-share to government meetings, holiday characters shouldn't car pool when they're headed to grocery store openings or company picnics or whatever Cupid, the Great Pumpkin and the Easter Bunny do during their time off. We know it saves gas money and cuts down on air pollution, but we just can't afford to lose them all. But unfortunately, that--and much, much worse things--happen during Casa Mañana's Children's Playhouse's new holiday show Santa is Missing!, a musical written by resident actors Sarah Slaughter and Brad Jackson. When Santa and several other seasonal mascots disappear, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman and a group of meddling kids are on the case, trying to locate Santa before Christmas by finding clues, solving mysteries and singing and dancing. If only Law & Order rocked and rolled. Performances of Santa is Missing! are 7:30 p.m. Fridays, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays from November 26 through December 19. Christmas week shows are 7:30 p.m. December 21, December 22 and December 23 and 2 p.m. December 24. Casa Mañana Theatre, 3101 W. Lancaster, Fort Worth. Tickets are $14 to $17. Call 817-332-2272.
Monday, November 29
Grapevine always reminds us of Stars Hollow, the town on Gilmore Girls, but with more vineyards and fewer endearingly eccentric residents. Both have a gazebo; both love their holiday celebrations. We just wish Luke had a restaurant here, too, so we could find out what's in the coffee that makes everyone talk so fast. Check out the similarities when the Grapevine Parks and Recreation Department hosts Carol of Lights, the annual tree-lighting ceremony that includes performances by local school and community choirs, appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus and the elves and songbooks, cookies, candy canes, hot chocolate, coffee and popcorn. It takes place--where else?--in the Gazebo at 325 Main St. at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Call 1-800-457-6338.
Tuesday, November 30
There are several skills necessary for a First Lady. Most important: smile. Smile like your life depends on it. Smile like a mask so unmovable that a frying pan to the face couldn't break it. Laura Bush has this perfected. Next, stand by your man. See: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Then, pick a style accessory and stick by it, too. Try something demure like pearls or a pillbox hat. Finally, get a pet. They make everyone more loveable, unless, like LBJ, you pick your beagle up by the ears. This guide to being the most photographed, scrutinized woman next to Britney Spears, er, Federline, isn't part of First Ladies: Political Role and Public Image, an exhibit that travels to the Women's Museum from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. But it would fit right into the 150 objects divided among the categories "Inventing the Role," "Political Role," "Public Image" and "Life After the White House." Artifacts include a necklace that belonged to Martha Washington, a tea set owned by Mary Todd Lincoln, a gown worn by Eleanor Roosevelt and literacy materials from Laura Bush. Too bad that smile wasn't available. The exhibit runs through February 13 in Fair Park. Visit www.thewomensmuseum.org or call 214-915-0860.
Wednesday, December 1
Many people praise Yo-Yo Ma for his passion, technical skill and refinement. We praise him for his cunning, the way he's almost secretly exposed people to classical music. He's been on Sesame Street playing with The Count; he did the soundtrack for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. And he just released Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone, Ma's versions of Morricone's themes from The Untouchables, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and more. This may not increase the ticket sales for Ma's show with pianist Emanuel Ax, but, in our opinion, the seeds are planted. Cliburn Concerts presents Ma and Ax at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Bass Performance Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth. Tickets are $20 to $90. Call 817-335-9000.