Christmas lights, cameras, action 

click to enlarge COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo

Whether you consider yourself secularly illuminated, spiritually attuned, or a runaway developer of your own personal holiday mashup, here are some of the Current's not-to-be-missed Christmas-themed events coming down the pike. — Yvonne Zamora

Santa's Ranch

If you're driving down I-35 just north of New Braunfels, you can't miss the 50-foot Christmas tree on the side of the road. This out-sized illuminated tree is just one of the many over-the-top displays located at "Santa's Ranch," 40-miles from San Antonio. Here Christmas spectacle reaches a whole other level. Visitors drive through an almost mile-long course, taking in an astonishing display of over a million lights and 100 animated displays. All the lights you can handle, and none of the tangled cords or headaches. $22 per car entrance fee, $42 season pass; Nov 4-Jan 1; Sun-Thu 6-10pm & Fri-Sat 6-11pm; 9561 I-35 N New Braunfels; (830)743-1293,

42nd Annual LBJ Tree Lighting

Every holiday season, the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park hosts an annual LBJ Tree Lighting ceremony. It's a politically tinged magical evening filled with the sounds of lively carolers, a live nativity, and an appearance from the Jolly Old Elf himself (you occult and conspiracy minded may want to keep an eye out for JFK guest starring as the Ghost of Christmas Past). Of course, the evening wouldn't be complete without the grand tah-dah of the whole event: the lighting of a massive Christmas tree. Approaching its 42nd lighting, the huge cedar tree is always lit by a Johnson family member. Free; Dec 18; 6pm-9pm; Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park, 100 Ladybird Ln, Johnson City; (830)644-2252,

Devine Acres Farm

There's nothing like the earthy smell of pinewood to get you into the holiday spirit. For an authentic aroma that exudes the feel of Christmas why not throw out the aerosol can, leave the plastic tree in storage, and head out to Devine Acres Farm to cut down your very own? A member of the "Texas Christmas Tree Growers Association," Devine Acres Farm grows three tree varieties, including the most sought after: the Leyland cypress. A hypoallergenic tree, the Leyland cypress is perfect for allergy sufferers. Also available are the Arizona cypress with a blue/gray tint, or the stout Elderica pine, good for holding the heavier ornaments (or non-spirited family members). Visitors receive a mini tree-cutting how-to upon arrival and notes on how to find the perfect tree. $8 per-foot; weekends only Nov 25-Dec 18; Noon-6pm; 944 FM 2200 W Devine; (830)665-9730,

Los Pastores

A holiday tradition that has been taking place on the historic grounds of Mission San Jose for over 64 years, Los Pastores is a Spanish folklore play about courage and determination depicting the story of those much-talked-about shepherds (pastores, en español) journeying to see the baby Jesus and the numerous obstacles Lucifer puts in their way. Expect harmonious melodies and English narration. Spectators are encouraged to bring a blanket to stay warm and offered hot chocolate for purchase. Even better: Order the champurrado, a hot, rich drink with Mexican chocolate and spices so good we don't think Jesus or the Devil would disapprove. Free; Dec 17; 6pm, Mission San Jose, 3701 San Jose Dr; (210)932-1001,




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