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‘Twas the week of Christmas, and for Philly families there’s a sweet variety of things to do

Arden's "Frog and Toad" has been extended, Derrick Pitts reads "The Polar Express," and Philly's Lady Hoofers do a tap-dancing take on "The Nutcracker." Plus, a peaceful place to walk amid art. Ahhhh!

Kids can watch on Facebook as astronomer Derrick Pitts reads "The Polar Express" in front of the Franklin Institute's Baldwin 60,000 locomotive (pictured) on Wednesday, Dec, 23.
Kids can watch on Facebook as astronomer Derrick Pitts reads "The Polar Express" in front of the Franklin Institute's Baldwin 60,000 locomotive (pictured) on Wednesday, Dec, 23.Read moreCourtesy of The Franklin Institute

The Christmas creep is real, and it has nothing to do with the jerk who snagged the only decent Balsam fir off the lot last week. Nope. This kind of creep begins on the 80-degree day when you see a commercial for a snowy holiday romance on the Hallmark Channel.

Next comes denial, also known as the “No worries: I have plenty of time” stage. And now, the final phase, when you realize you have exactly no time to ship the gifts you’ve yet to buy and that you’re going to be pulling another Christmas Eve all-nighter. On the other hand, if you’re in a family who’s been fully prepped for the holidays since Thanksgiving, well, good on you. Either way, you’re going to need to distract/tire out the kids to give yourself some time to get things done or revel in your accomplishments. Here are some ideas.

A Year with Frog and Toad

Extended through Dec. 31, available online at, free with donation requested (ages 3–11)

In an example of virtual art imitating real-life art, the Arden Theatre has, for its fifth rendition of A Year with Frog and Toad, extended its musical’s run. You’ve now got until the end of 2020 to watch from home as beloved actors Jeff Coon and Ben Dibble act, sing, and dance as every kid’s favorite odd amphibian couple.

The Tapcracker at Home

Extended through 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, tickets via, $25 per device, $8 for artists, essential workers, and adults who are under- or unemployed (ages 4 & up)

I The Tapcracker, the tap-dance sibling to Balanchine’s Nutcracker tells an entirely different story, about a glittering Christmas vacation in Paris. What’s more, Philly’s Lady Hoofers inspire in a real-world way that ethereal prima ballerinas just … don’t.

Grounds for Sculpture

Standard operating hours 10 a.m.–6 p.m. Thurs.-Mon. (closed every Tues. & Weds., also closed Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve, open New Year’s Day), timed reservations required at, $10, free for ages 5 & under (all ages)

Wanna go walking through a winter wonderland without a bunch of Grinches popping out of blown-up presents, or a billion lightbulbs blinking to the Trans-Siberian Orchestra? The late Seward Johnson’s snow-covered Grounds for Sculpture has got you. The Hamilton, N.J., sculpture garden has more than 300 outdoor artworks displayed in natural settings, a pedestrian bridge or two to trample over, secret passages, a sculpture hunt, an explorer’s guide, and a lovely winter garden.

Derrick Pitts reads The Polar Express

7 p.m. Weds., Dec. 23 on Facebook @TheFranklinInstitute, free (ages 3 & up)

In a mash-up that seems almost too good to be true, eminent Franklin Institute astronomer Derrick Pitts reads Chris Van Allsburg’s The Polar Express in front of the beloved 1926 Baldwin 60000 — the museum’s giant steam locomotive. Tom Hanks who?

Being ______ at Xmas

10 a.m. Fri., Dec. 25, livestreamed at, $10 donation suggested (all ages)

There won’t be 1,000 guests coming through the glass doors of the National Museum of American Jewish History this Friday. But there will be lots of folks taking part virtually at home in the museum’s annual activity-packed cultural celebration. Kiddie rockers Alex and the Kaleidoscope open the day. There will also be singing, dads who beatbox from Baltimore, crafts with Philadelphia’s Portside Arts Center, and mindfulness practice, because, well, 2020.