For those asking themselves the important question of what to call the week of dead space between Christmas and New Year’s, worry no more; I did some research and the Internet revealed that there are sundry colorful ways to refer to it: “holiday taint,” “festive perineum,” and “merryneum”—all highly accurate (if slightly inappropriate for your 9-year-old nephew’s ears).

But now that we’ve tackled semantics, the question remains of what, exactly, you’re supposed to do. Brave the stores to return gifts? Nah. Stand in line for nine hours to see the new Star Wars? Ugh. Keep on with the steady infusion of mulled wine into the bloodstream? Well, sure. But if you’re looking to keep it mellow in the week leading up to New Year’s, the city offers a number of options.

For those with wee family members still in town, or for those with a sentimental side/undying obsession with Julie Andrews, on Saturday, December 26, the Crocker Art Museum (216 O Street) is hosting its Sound of Music Sing-Along for the fourth year running. There will be a costume contest and yodeling, so it’s good a time as ever to dust off your holiday lederhosen. There are showings at 1:30 p.m. and 6 p.m., and tickets can be purchased at for $12-$14.

If the Von Trapp family is a little too Pollyanna for you (the happy feels of 1960s cinema isn’t for everyone), haul the family out to Coyote Tales at the Effie Yeaw Nature Center (2850 San Lorenzo Way in Carmichael) on Sunday, December 27, at 1:30 p.m. for a narrative of the nature variety. Attendees will learn about the wily ways of this wild canine, examine a skull and pelt, and search for tracks on the center grounds. Admission is free and more info can be found at

Alternatively, perhaps you need some “me time” in a serious way; on Tuesday, December 29, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Sunlight of the Spirit Books & Gifts (2314 J Street) is offering a free meditation class where the goal is to sit for an hour and literally think of nothing, which in contrast to the hubbub of the season sounds pretty sweet. Visit for more info.