Thrills for the week

December 18
Material world: Well-worn baby blankets, christening gowns, Halloween costumes, patchwork quilts and wedding attire are the kinds of sentiment-charged mementos we stash in our attics for posterity. Cultural Threads: Ceremonial Textiles Around the World, a new exhibit opening today at the Mizel Museum of Judaica, 560 S. Monaco Pkwy., examines symbolic fiber arts from a myriad of cultures, juxtaposing an Afghani bridal robe with a rare hand-spun and embroidered Guatemalan huipil or an African tunic with a Muslim prayer rug. At the heart of the exhibit is a series of elaborate wimpels, or Torah binders, created by women artists. Though the binders traditionally follow young Jewish men through their many rites of passage, this collection celebrates life passages of both males and females. A reception featuring African and Caribbean drummers takes place tonight at 7; Cultural Threads remains on display through February 25. Call 333-4156 for information.

Give 'em a hound: A middle-aged husband goes gaga over a stray dog in Sylvia, a tender comedy by A.R. Gurney that explores the foibles of marriage and midlife with an even keel and a twinkle in its eye. The Denver Center Theatre Company stages Gurney's gentle lampoon beginning tonight at 8 at the Ricketson Theatre, 14th and Curtis in the Plex; the run continues daily except Sunday through February 14. For showtimes and tickets, ranging in price from $27 to $33, call 893-4100.

Off the mall: This month's Third Thursday Art Walk in Cherry Creek North, which falls a week before Christmas, not only offers fresh air and a change of pace from elbow-jostling in the malls, but also provides plenty of splendid opportunities for last-minute shopping. On the festive gallery jaunt in the area between 1st and 3rd avenues and University and Steele streets, you're likely to find one-of-a-kind menorahs at Show of Hands, silver and turquoise at West Southwest, wacky lamps and blown-glass blossoms at Pismo, futuristic salt and pepper shakers at Squisito, fancy fishing lures at the Angler and a shopping-bagful of other surprises. Gallery doors will be open from 5 to 9; for information call 831-0843.

December 19
Grow up, already: The kids are ho-ho-hoing the season away at Christmas plays about town--so what about you? Holiday stage fare tailored more to your adult intellect can be found at the Acoma Center, 1080 Acoma St., where Tales From the Snowside, a pair of wintry one-acts written and directed by local playwright Terry Dodd, run in tandem on Friday and Saturday nights, through January 31. The autobiographical Vaughan, New Mexico, Christmas Eve, 1956 recalls a family road trip, while a droll holiday version of Laurel & Hardy Sleep Together yucks it up with Grandma Tookey in her Airstream trailer; for tickets, $13 to $15, call 623-0524.

At Germinal Stage, 2450 W. 44th Ave., you'll find a looser aggregation of Yuleish entertainment in small-theater maven Ed Baierlein's Christmas for Adults of All Ages, an assortment of songs, readings and poems geared to enlightening the mind and lightening the soul. Baierlein stresses that "secular humanists are welcome and encouraged" to attend the show, which plays for three performances at 8 p.m. today through Sunday only. Tickets are $9; call 455-7108 for reservations.

Be there now: The wave of the future is a thing of the past--if you're not into martinis, pearls, decolletage and swing dancing, you're nobody, darling. But drape yourself in all of the above, set the beat to mambo, and you'll find yourself in the glamour zone, big time, dancing to the wildly popular local big-band ensemble Cabaret Diosa. Have some fun--the campy conglomeration puts on a show tonight at 9 at the Fox Theatre, 1135 13th St., Boulder; for tickets, $6.50, call 830-TIXS.

Things will also be swinging tonight at the Mercury Cafe, 2199 California St., to the more traditional Jazz West, a twenty-piece band even Fred and Ginger could appreciate. Arrive early for help with your fancy steps at a 5 p.m. class, then hang around for the full-tilt dancing at 7:30; admission is $5. Call 294-9281.

December 20
Creature comforts: Oh, to be a Hindu deity--you've got shopping bags in one arm, a tray of cookies in the other, three whining kids hanging off a third, and then there's little Zasu, who's tugging firmly at your kneecap. Our advice? Drop everything. Here are some of the places to which you can whisk yourself and your crabby brood for the day (and evening):

The Children's Museum of Denver, located by the Platte River at I-25 and 23rd Ave., offers a pair of kids' concerts with local musician Michael Stanwood, a well-traveled performer who brings along a spellbinding cache of instruments from around the world, today and tomorrow at 11:30 and 1:30; admission is $1 in addition to the usual museum fare of $2 to $5. While you're there, the tykes can take a slide down KidSlope, and you can all shop in a kid-sized Wild Oats store or marvel at the jewel-toned illustrations of Tomie dePaola; call 433-7444 for information.

Today from 1 to 3 at the Denver Museum of Miniatures, Dolls and Toys, 1880 Gaylord St., it's an Afternoon With St. Nick, featuring rides on an antique fire truck (please leave your 101 Dalmatians at home), a holiday ornament workshop and visits with the jolly one. Admission, which includes museum entry, is $4 to $5; call 322-3704.

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