Holiday Relief


Go ahead, say it: The holidays are driving you nuts.

Your daughter begs relentlessly for that new computerized talking Barbie doll--and a hundred other things. You’d rather choke down fruitcake than make another shopping trip to the mall.

If your holiday spirit is flagging, we have a few ways to revive it. For starters, bring your family to Ventura’s Olivas Adobe on Sunday night for a special candlelight program.

Docents carrying lanterns will lead tours of the two-story mansion, stopping at each of the rooms for a brief skit that sheds light on how the holiday season was celebrated during rancho days. The free tours will start every 15 minutes from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

In a kitchen scenario, two women quibble over how much cinnamon to put in the goodies they are baking, while a boy fills a pinata with candy. In the room the Olivas family used as a chapel, a padre tells the story of St. Nicholas.

In the sewing room, two women help children prepare for the Posada, the reenactment of Mary’s and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and their search for lodging just before the birth of Jesus.


After the skits, the grand finale is a scene in the living room where adults and children are gathered around a piano singing Christmas carols and dancing.

“At every single room, we’ve had people walk away with tears in their eyes,” said Karen Kennedy, a docent who organized a junior docent program at the adobe last summer. Most of the 14 kids in the group are participating in the skits, and their handmade ornaments decorate the Christmas tree.

You shouldn’t have any trouble finding the stately hacienda for this event--provided it’s not too windy. The courtyard will glow with some 350 luminarias, those little paper bags that hold a candle propped up by sand. They will be lined up in the shape of a giant star.


If you’re touched by nativity scenes, you can peruse more than 600 of them in a special exhibit in Camarillo this weekend. You’ll see amazing variations on this holy theme--from hand-crocheted figures to manger scenes made of everything from driftwood to marbles.

“We’ve got quite a number of new ones this year,” said Nora Howells, whose own collection of about 100 creches is part of the exhibit, now in its fifth year. Howells started the annual show with Judy Crenshaw, whose personal collection now numbers 160.

A fund-raiser for homeless shelters in the county, the exhibit is aptly titled “No Room at the Inn.” In the last four years, the event has raised about $23,000.

On Friday, the exhibit opens with a gala from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Camarillo. The cost is a donation of $12.50 and includes hors d’oeuvres and entertainment. Marlene Elias, who sang at Mother Teresa’s funeral, will perform.

For a no-frills look at the exhibit, you can stop by the church Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Admission is a donation of $3 for adults and $1 for children.

In addition to nativities from 40 countries, you can ogle the one Philip Ozab of Thousand Oaks made for his grandchildren. Done in phases over three years, it’s an inn with an adjoining stable that stands 2 feet tall and measures 44 inches long.

Ozab, a retired Southern California Edison executive, gave it an old, weathered look, along the lines of French Norman architecture, with worn patches of stucco that reveal brickwork.

During his daily walks in Wildwood Park, he would pick up dead brush that he used in the model’s construction. It has quaint touches, like the bird’s nest and beagle on the doorstep. It’s all landscaped and lighted.

Because his grandchildren moved out of state and the creche was too bulky to take, Ozab donated it to “No Room at the Inn.” It will be sold in a silent auction Friday night.


Here’s a new twist on trimming the tree. Your family can join state parks interpretive guide Jim Holt for a sunset beach stroll this weekend and then help sculpt a Christmas tree out of sand.

Don’t worry about tree decorations: kelp and other beach treasures will do nicely. And for the tree’s lights, Holt plans to light luminarias, if it’s not too windy. To take the winter chill off, you can bring hot chocolate to sip while you join in a caroling sing-along.

This free one-hour event, “Carols on the Coast,” takes place Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Leo Carrillo State Park on Pacific Coast Highway just below the Ventura County-Los Angeles County line. (Participants should meet in the day-use parking lot.)

Holt will repeat this event Sunday at 4:30 p.m. at Malibu Lagoon State Beach on Pacific Coast Highway. (Meet in the day-use parking lot.)


Olivas Candlelight Christmas Tours are scheduled 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Sunday, at Olivas Adobe, 4200 Olivas Park Drive, Ventura. (805) 658-4726.

“No Room at the Inn” nativity exhibit is open Friday, 6:30 to 9 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 2304 Antonio Ave., Camarillo. Admission is $3 for adults and $1 for children. (805) 492-9420.

“Carols on the Coast” takes place Saturday, 4:30 p.m., at Leo Carrillo State Beach on Pacific Coast Highway near the Ventura County-Los Angeles County line, and Sunday, 4:30 p.m., at Malibu Lagoon State Beach, Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. For information, call (310) 457-8142.