We get along better with animals than we do with people. Not only are animals always sympathetic, but they never bore us by talking back. So we’re looking forward to Journey to Bethlehem, the outdoor pageant presented by First Baptist Church of Oak Park, 820 Ontario St., on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 16 and 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. (848-4070). Along with congregation members, the Biblical cast includes animals-sheep, goats, a donkey, and even a camel. We’re not planning to strike up a conversation with the camel, however; she always looks like she would rather be at a classier party, and she might humiliate us. But the donkey usually looks friendly. We’ll proffer some suitable conversation starters, like, “We know how hard it is to stand still on stage” or “We’ve been in a Christmas pageant or two ourselves.” We’ll have to see how things go before we approach the sheep and goats, though. They’re all in the manger scene, along with an authentic human infant. One never knows what will happen next with a real baby, and if Jesus starts screaming it will be hard to chat.

Speaking of screaming, we’ve been having these horrible nightmares this week: We’re pursued by giant, furious sugarplums, bearing down on us with humongous credit card bills and threatening to tell our children that they can’t always get what they want. We’re going to Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 Division St., River Forest (366-6900), this Sunday, Dec. 17, from 9:50 to 10:45 a.m. for an adult education class, “Dreams and Dream Interpretation,” with George Hogenson of the Jung Institute of Chicago. We’d like to ask if there are any other recorded cases of the anti-Christ appearing repeatedly as a malevolent sugarplum.

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