Lessons in Living Susan L. Taylor, editor-in-chief of Essence and author of Lessons in Living, will talk about her place as a "mother, daughter, sister, friend and neighbor" in the divine plan. (Check Thrills, Readings and Discussions, for details of Taylor's two other Houston appearances.) 7-9 p.m. Shrine Bookstore, 5309 M.L.K. Boulevard, 645-1071.
Relativism The Philadelphia Family -- a loosely knit association of local artists who take their name from a group of vindictive relatives in the City of Brotherly Love who were profiled recently on tabloid TV -- present a show of varied art works. Paintings are the least of it; you also get jewelry, photographs, collages, assemblages and framed drawings. These works by Jeff Atchley, Amy Brock, Susan Hanft, Cindy House, Laura Lark, Suzanne Paul, Adam Skjonsby and Gerald Thorp will be on view one time only. 7-10 p.m.PhiladelphiaFamilyHQ,2305 Woodhead, 521-0584. Free.
A Norman Rockwell Kind of Christmas Second Baptist Church is going whole hog -- this year they've got the Candy Village, the Electric Light Parade, dinner theater, the Angels of Light outreach project and a "multimedia Broadway-style musical" called A Norman Rockwell Kind of Christmas. Instead of celebrating the season with pageant wagons or Dance of the Six, Second Baptist is going for the mid-20th-century traditions of pipe-smoking, folksy illustrator Norman Rockwell. Singers and actors will be presented in tableaux mimicking actual Norman Rockwell paintings, all this music and imagery depicting "the perfect New England Christmas." 8 p.m. tonight and December 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17. Second Baptist Church, 6400 Woodway, 365-2401. $10-$14.
Mud 'Tis the season to be jolly, and also the season to enjoy underground theater. Infernal Bridegroom Productions comes to the rescue of grinches and hard-core drama fans with a tinsel-free show, Mud. A brisk 45 minutes long and performed in the brisk, mostly unheated theater space of Commerce Street Arts Warehouse, Mud is the work of Maria Irene Fornes. The California and New York productions of Mud got good buzz, and Fornes is considered an "important" playwright. The Cuban-American's drama is set in a claustrophobic environment; the tension comes from an invalid and a caretaker locked in an interdependent relationship fraught with need and resentment. "It's Mud," Infernal Bridegroom informs us. "Wallow in it." Opening tonight, 8 p.m. Through December 16. Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. Commerce Street Arts Warehouse, 2315 Commerce Street, 802-0321. Tickets are sold at the door only (no reservations accepted), and they go quickly. $5.99.
The Joy of Giving Celebrity Bowl This is a football game, foremost, and the beauty of it is that no matter who wins, a Houston team will come out on top. The Bisons and the Skyhawks, our local semipro football teams, will take to the gridiron not in competition for any prestigious trophy, but to entertain Houston's children. Organized by the World Youth Foundation, this event has one motivation: to give kids the opportunity to get out and have some fun and some new experiences. Football's not the only item on the agenda; before the game, Santa will make a visit and distribute as many as 3,500 toys, and local sports celebrities such as Marcus Robinson and Alonzo Highsmith will sign autographs. Then at halftime, bands from Smiley, Yates, Kashmere and Forest Brook high schools will square off, with the winning ensemble marching away with $1,000 for their school's scholarship fund. Pregame activities start at 11 a.m.; kickoff is at 1 p.m. Texas Southern University football field, 3100 Cleburne. For more information, call Paula Highsmith at 313-1900. $10; free for children 12 and under.
Lights in the Heights Only a couple of elements have a price tag at this holiday celebration: photos with Santa are $5 plus tax and commemorative T-shirts are $14 for adult sizes, $7 for children's sizes. Santa starts posing at 7 p.m. near the T-shirt booth at the Norhill esplanade. The celebration begins, though, as soon as the sky gets dark. Neighbors from 15 blocks along Bayland, Euclid, Norhill and Beauchamp streets will line their avenues with luminaries. To add to the celebratory atmosphere, 27 ensembles -- choirs, folksingers and bands -- will entertain. Walk around and gaze at the decorative streets, or hop into a carriage or haywagon for a holiday ride. It's free either way. 6-9 p.m. To reach the Woodland Heights, take the Taylor Street exit off I-10 and go north, or exit Houston/North Main off I-45 and take Houston Avenue south. For more information, call the Woodland Heights Civic Association, 683-5188.