It's Christmas week. Soon you'll be surrounded by a babbling mass of blood relations, the uncannily selected antithesis of everything on your wish list, and an injudiciously decorated conifer. Or maybe you'll be lonesomely scarfing down Chinese food, hunched over reruns of

The Simpsons


No matter your plans, you need to get out of the house. I have a few suggestions, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.

Monday: Even the most dedicated Marxist can appreciate the weirdly flickering glow of Philadelphia's monument to civic capitalism, the Christmas Light Show and Wanamaker Organ Concert at Macy's (1300 Market St.). Shows are every two hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. (A more limited schedule starts Tuesday.)

Tuesday: It's the Eve, and you've forgotten everything. Cheese, chocolate, crustaceans, the lot. Hide your shame in an outing to Reading Terminal Market (12th and Arch Streets), probably the most endearing shopping experience in the city. Opens at 10 a.m. daily.

Wednesday: It's the Day, and almost everything is closed. But the beautiful lights bedecking various South Philly blocks are still on - 13th and Tasker, Mifflin and Second, Wharton and Tenth. Check them out.

Thursday: Take the El to Upper Darby and enjoy one of the good Mexican and Korean restaurants near the 69th Street terminal.

Friday: With life roughly back to normal, visit one of the inner-ring suburbs, many of which still have cute, thriving downtowns. Narberth and Collingswood are both good ones.

Saturday: Assuming you are done spending time with people who prefer having a good impression of you, it's time to prepare for New Year's, specifically the Mummers Parade. Head to the Barbary (951 Frankford Ave.), where the Vaudevillains New Years Brigade (I'm friends with numerous members) will throw a huge dance party to help pay off the spandex, neon, and glitter debts they've been amassing. Entrance is $5; starts at 10 p.m.