Happy St. Knut’s Day!

Time to Loot the Tree!

St. Knut’s Day is tomorrow, which means it’s time to let the kids loot the Christmas tree! Traditionally in Sweden, Christmas trees might have been decorated with edible decorations, including gingerbread ornaments, candy canes, crackers and sweets. On St. Knut’s Day (the 13th day of January), kids were allowed to loot the tree and munch on all the edible (albiet stale) ornaments.

We’re fond of this holiday because it gives a cultural nudge to take down the Christmas tree, otherwise “O Tannenbaum” would be left standing through Valentine’s Day for some of us!

But then what do we do with our Christmas tree once we’ve taken down the ornaments? Years ago one of our readers shared her family tradition where they take their Christmas tree outside in their backyard and prop it up in the snow. They then decorate the tree with stale bread, popcorn, birdseed pine cones and cranberries, thus creating a holiday tree for the birds and other wildlife… What a great idea!

Want to do the same?  Create a new tradition with your family that brings closure to the holiday season. Here are some posts to inspire your family to create edible ornaments for the wildlife in your backyard to help get you started:  Read the rest of this entry »

7 Holiday Podcasts from the Hilltown Family Variety Show

Originally broadcasted out of Northampton, MA on WXOJ-LP 103.3FM (Valley Free Radio) for the holidays, we’ve gathered seven holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show from over the years to share with your family as we celebrate the season. Enjoy these hour long, commercial-free podcasts that celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, the New Year and the spirit of peace and giving. Choose a podcast here…

Language Play: Add Structure and Language to Your Thanksgiving Menu

Add Structure and Language to Your Thanksgiving Menu

Board games help to bring structure and can be a great intergenerational activity during your Thanksgiving celebration. Have a favorite ready to share together, allowing children to practice language skills and concepts.

Thanksgiving is my favorite American holiday.  It is not about any one religious belief; you don’t have to buy presents; it is optional if you cook or bring food; people offer hospitality to others who have nowhere else to go; and, of course, parades, food, and football!

Children may be fine with herds of people, meals at different times of the day, free play with friends and relatives, with their parents’ attention on others and away from them; but many can become stressed with so many changes in their routine all at once. If you have a child like this, make sure you plan more than the meal… Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for December 29th, 2012-January 4th, 2013

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Saturday, Dec. 29th 11am and 2pm - CHILDREN’S THEATER: Berkshire Children’s Theater presents, “Pinkalicious!” at the Berkshire Museum!  The show is a musical stage adaptation of the book of the same name, and is about a little girl learning how to exercise her self control!  Pinkalicious loves anything pink, but her special favorite are pink cupcakes – and, despite her parents cautioning, she eats so many that she turns pink!  413-443-7171.  39 South Street.  Pittsfield, MA.  ($$)

Sunday, Dec. 30th from 10am-5pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURES: The Springfield MuseumsWacky Week comes to an end today, as kiddos head back to school tomorrow.  Special events and activities for the day include a chance to make silly finger puppets, family science adventures (11am-2pm), New Year’s mask-making, and a performance from BubbleMania!  BubbleMania: Effervescent Entertainment is filled with comedy and wit, and will teach audience members all about the amazing magic of bubbles – all to a soundtrack of swing music!  800-625-7738.  Springfield, MA.  (FREE with museum admission)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Saturday, January 5th from 1-4pm – OUTDOOR ADVENTURES: Northfield Mountain host Winter Trail Days for families with older children interested in trying snowshoeing and/or cross country skiing for the first time.  Free 45 minute clinics are being offered to first time skiers or who have never tried to ski. Equipment provided.  Pre-registration required by calling 1-800-859-2960.  99 Millers Falls Road, Northfield, MA (FREE) 

Sunday, January 6th at 6:30pm – THREE KINGS DAY: Celebrate Three Kings Day at the 40th annual caroling event at the Red Lion Inn!  The Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception will lead visitors in Christmas carols on the steps of the inn, and the event will also include treats for all.  413-298-3691.  30 Main Street.  Stockbridge, MA.  (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

Jan 5

Pioneer Valley Ballet will present its spring production of The Little Mermaid on April 6th and 7th at Northampton’s historic Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton, MA. Auditions will be held at the PVB studio at the Eastworks Building (116 Pleasant St.) in Easthampton on Saturday, January 5th for boys and girls ages 5-12yrs. Roles include pearls, crabs, sea horses, starfish and water sprites No dance experience necessary. Please visit www.pioneervalleyballet.org for registration information and audition times, or call the studio at 413-527-6363. Dancers with pointe experience, please contact the studio for additional audition schedules.

Jan 9

Interested in Jewish education? Looking for a progressive school with stellar teachers, vibrant community, and a values-based curriculum? Come to LGA Schechter’s Community Tour for Prospective Parents on Wednesday, January 9th, 9-10:30am. Visit classrooms. Speak with current parents, students, teachers and administrators. Learn what an LGA education is all about! Contact Principal Marcia Holden at mholden@lgaschechter.org or call 413-584-6622 to RSVP — or set up an individual tour on another day. Lander Grinspoon Academy is a Jewish day school located at 257 Prospect St. in Northampton, MA. For more info visit www.lgaschechter.org.

ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT OR VACATION WEEK CAMP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com

Hilltown CDC is hosting a Community Development Forum on Monday, Jan 14 at 1pm at their offices in Chesterfield, MA. Hilltown residents are invited to come discuss housing needs, senior center needs and a variety of social service needs including the Hilltown Elder Network, the Health Outreach Program for Elders, the Food Pantry, and needs for young families including Child Care subsidies and Families Together. Do you have concerns about, compliments for or ideas on how to improve any of these programs in the Hilltowns? Do you have new ideas to share that could be developed further? All ideas are welcome. RSVP to Dave at 413-296-4536 x118 by Jan. 9. If you are unable to attend, you can still send feedback via email to davec@hilltowncdc.org.

Catherine Wolkowicz writes, ” A hilltown family has a personal connection to the tragedy in Sandy Hook. I have a connection. My sister, her first grade son and husband live there. They were lucky. If there is such a thing for any child who attends Sandy Hook Elementary School.” … Read Catherine’s letter to our community and about the Sandy Hook First Grade Survivors Fund she has established.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
December 29th, 2012 – January 4th, 2013

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for December 22nd-28th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Done with your holiday shopping? Need something last minute? Rather than another tchotchke, how about a gift certificate to a local restaurant, an online donation to a local charity in their honor, or a membership to a local museum or to the Friends of your local library? (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Here are six holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show from over the years to share with your family as we celebrate the season. Enjoy these commercial-free podcasts that celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, the New Year and the spirit of peace and giving.

Saturday, December 22nd at 10:30am and 1pm – FAMILY THEATER: Paintbox Theater presents, “A Christmas Carol” – a holiday classic!  This special family adaptation of the show will feature lots of audience participation (including a snow-less snowball fight).  Performances will take place at Northampton High School.  413-210-1898.  380 Elm Street.  Northampton, MA.  ($)

Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 22nd & 23rd at 2pm – FAMILY FILM: Amherst Cinema screens a special matinee of, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” today!  See the film as a family to get into the holiday spirit, and to introduce kids who haven’t seen it to the classic tale.  413-253-2547.  23 Amity Street.  Amherst, MA.  ($)

Sunday, December 23rd from 4-9pm – HISTORY/HOLIDAY: Celebrate the holiday season the old-fashioned way at Old Sturbridge Village! The historic village’s Christmas by Candlelight series offers families a chance to enjoy non-commercial, relaxed holiday festivities and activities. Go for a sleigh ride, learn about roasting chestnuts over an open fireplace, make your own tin holiday ornaments, vote for your favorite homemade gingerbread house, sing along to Christmas carols with villagers dressed in period clothing, and more! 800-733-1830. 1 Old Sturbridge Village Road. Sturbridge, MA. ($)

Sunday, December 23rd at 6pm – CHRISTMAS CAROLING: All are invited to join local 4-H Club for Christmas Caroling Down Main Street.  Meet at the Cummington Community House at 6pm and travel from home to home on Main Street to sing holiday songs.  Return to Community House for refreshments.  Bring plates of cookies to share. 33 Main Street. Cummington, MA (FREE)


MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Saturday, Dec. 29th 11am and 2pm - CHILDREN’S THEATER: Berkshire Children’s Theater presents, “Pinkalicious!” at the Berkshire Museum!  The show is a musical stage adaptation of the book of the same name, and is about a little girl learning how to exercise her self control!  Pinkalicious loves anything pink, but her special favorite are pink cupcakes – and, despite her parents cautioning, she eats so many that she turns pink!  413-443-7171.  39 South Street.  Pittsfield, MA.  ($$)

Sunday, Dec. 30th 1-5pm – MUSEUM ADVENTURE/COMICS: Make your own comic book art at drop-in workshops at the Norman Rockwell Museum!  The museum is currently hosting an exhibit of comic book art by Alex Ross, and the activities included in the workshops will give kids a chance to create their own comic book-style artwork.  Superheroes will be roaming the museum, too – be sure to visit the galleries to find them!  413-298-4100.  9 Route 183.  Stockbridge, MA.  (FREE with museum admission)

BULLETIN BOARD

Dec. 14-15 & 21-22

Tom McCabe’s PaintBox Theatre presents, A Christmas Carol at Northampton High School: Dec. 14th at 7pm; Dec. 15th at 10:30am & 1pm; Dec. 21st at 7pm; Dec. 22nd at 10:30am & 1pm. A child-friendly romp featuring lots of audience participation and holiday cheer. You’ll join in an invisible snowball, snowball fight, and everyone will learn how to waltz. Fifty children artists have drawn pictures of the story’s characters & locales which will be projected above the stage during the performance. Intermission features an audience carol sing, Several audience members will be drafted to play parts including Tiny Tim. Tickets are $7. General Seating – Tickets available online at BrownPaperTickets.com or at the door. More info at PaintBoxTheatre.org.

Through Sept 8, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My!, on view beginning November 17 at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s Stone Hill Center in Williamstown, utilizes video, hands-on activities, taxidermy, and innovative displays to create an exciting learning environment for all ages. The exhibition includes a magnificent specimen of an adult African lion as well as a lioness’s pelt, claws, and a skull that will be available to encourage hands-on exploration. Visitors try on a gauntlet as they try to balance a wooden block that approximates the size and weight of a falcon for a first-hand experience of the difficulty and delicate balance needed in falconry. Visit clarkart.edu to learn about the exhibition and other family events and programs.

ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT OR VACATION WEEK CAMP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Win tickets to final performance on Sunday, Dec. 30th at 2pm in Pittsfield, MA. Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 12/24, 12noon.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com

The Garden: A Center for Grieving Children and Teens offers a safe and welcoming setting to process the many feelings associated with grief and loss. Any family with a child ages 5-18 years who has experienced the death of a close family member is invited to participate in our Sunday afternoon groups. Groups are offered at no charge. New groups will be forming in February, and will meet at the Hampshire Regional YMCA in Northampton. Pre-registration is required. For more information, please call 413-584-7086 x124 or email Shelly Bathe Lenn at shelly.thegarden@gmail.com.

Recommend your favorite attraction, must see or must do family winter activity in Western MA, and be entered to win a gift basket from the Old Creamery Co-Op (Value $150)! Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 12/24, 12noon.

A celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation will be held in the Pioneer Valley. On Jan. 1st at 2pm, churches throughout the valley will ring their bells to recognize the moment the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, the document that led to the permanent end of slavery. In 1863, at 2pm on New Year’s Day, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, providing that all persons held as slaves would be “then, thenceforward, and forever free,” resulting in the permanent abolition of slavery. Residents are urged to join in this celebration, encouraging their towns & churches to participate by ringing their bells at 2pm on New Year’s Day. For info, contact Robert Romer, rhromer@amherst.edu.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
December 22nd-28th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for December 15th-21st, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

If your kids are still looking forward to meeting Santa there are several more non-commercial venues to see Santa this weekend, including: Lenox Community Center; Sunderland Library; Holyoke Merry-Go-Round; Northampton Senior Center; Hinsdale Community Center; and Easthampton Family Center.

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Here are six holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show from over the years to share with your family as we celebrate the season. Enjoy these commercial-free podcasts that celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, the New Year and the spirit of peace and giving.

Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker are two classics that come alive during the holiday season. Many families make it a yearly tradition to see one or the other (or both)! This weekend and coming week there are several opportunities:

BULLETIN BOARD

Dec. 14-15 & 21-22

Tom McCabe’s PaintBox Theatre presents, A Christmas Carol at Northampton High School: Dec. 14th at 7pm; Dec. 15th at 10:30am & 1pm; Dec. 21st at 7pm; Dec. 22nd at 10:30am & 1pm. A child-friendly romp featuring lots of audience participation and holiday cheer. You’ll join in an invisible snowball, snowball fight, and everyone will learn how to waltz. Fifty children artists have drawn pictures of the story’s characters & locales which will be projected above the stage during the performance. Intermission features an audience carol sing, Several audience members will be drafted to play parts including Tiny Tim. Tickets are $7. General Seating – Tickets available online at BrownPaperTickets.com or at the door. More info at PaintBoxTheatre.org.

Through Sept 8, 2013

Lions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My!, on view beginning November 17 at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s Stone Hill Center in Williamstown, utilizes video, hands-on activities, taxidermy, and innovative displays to create an exciting learning environment for all ages. The exhibition includes a magnificent specimen of an adult African lion as well as a lioness’s pelt, claws, and a skull that will be available to encourage hands-on exploration. Visitors try on a gauntlet as they try to balance a wooden block that approximates the size and weight of a falcon for a first-hand experience of the difficulty and delicate balance needed in falconry. Visit clarkart.edu to learn about the exhibition and other family events and programs.

ADVERTISE YOUR EVENT OR VACATION WEEK CAMP: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Win tickets to final performance on Sunday, Dec. 30th at 2pm in Pittsfield, MA. Deadline to enter for a chance to win: 12/24, 12noon.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com

A celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation will be held in the Pioneer Valley. On Jan. 1st at 2pm, churches throughout the valley will ring their bells to recognize the moment the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, the document that led to the permanent end of slavery. In 1863, at 2pm on New Year’s Day, President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, providing that all persons held as slaves would be “then, thenceforward, and forever free,” resulting in the permanent abolition of slavery. Residents are urged to join in this celebration, encouraging their towns & churches to participate by ringing their bells at 2pm on New Year’s Day. For info, contact Robert Romer, rhromer@amherst.edu.

Child Care of the Berkshires writes, “Berkshire Youth Mentoring is gearing up for its 1st Bowl-a-Thon on Saturday, February 9th, 1-7pm., at Mt. Greylock Bowl in North Adams, MA. Save the date and prepare to have fun as we bring back Bowling for Kid’s Sake to the Berkshires. Money raised through this event stays right here in our community. Berkshire Youth Mentoring Program of Child Care of the Berkshires, Inc., builds dynamic mentoring relationships to expand youths’ interests, joys, strengths and possibilities for the future. We are seeking dedicated community members who can volunteer 1-2 hours a week. Contact Alex at 413-663-6593 or alenski@ccberkshire.org for more info.”

The Garden: A Center for Grieving Children and Teens offers a safe and welcoming setting to process the many feelings associated with grief and loss. Any family with a child ages 5-18 years who has experienced the death of a close family member is invited to participate in our Sunday afternoon groups. Groups are offered at no charge. New groups will be forming in February, and will meet at the Hampshire Regional YMCA in Northampton. Pre-registration is required. For more information, please call 413-584-7086 x124 or email Shelly Bathe Lenn at shelly.thegarden@gmail.com.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
December 15th-21st, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun for Late December, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
December 15th – 28th, 2012

(Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

There are just a couple more weekends left before Christmas, followed by school winter vacation. Berkshire County continues to celebrate the change of season and several of the museums and community centers will have activities for kids during the week of winter vacation. – Then it’s the New Year!

Cookies with origins from around the world are a staple of the holidays! Gingerbread Men to Hermits to Sugar Cookies are baked up in home kitchens and given as gifts. This weekend kids can learn how to make Rugalach at the Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington, and next weekend families are welcomed to participate in a homemade cookie swap a Moments House in Pittsfield or pick up cookies at the Hinsdale Cookie Walk. Take the time to learn about the history behind cookies from other cultures, or make that recipe your grandmother handed down and share the backstory with your family and friends.

Find out about over 50 community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through December 28th, 2012:

North Berkshire County
Central Berkshire County
South Berkshire County

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

Read the rest of this entry »

8 Tips for Happier Holidays with Your Kids

Raising Children: Love, Limits & Lessons

8 Tips for Happier Holidays with Your kids

Remind yourself about the true meaning of the holidays; it’s not about having the perfect family. A big mistake parents make is remembering the holidays from their childhood and trying to recreate them today.

It’s time once again to begin preparing for the holidays and gearing up for family, fun and festivals. The kids will be getting excited and be at home for school vacation. Here are eight tips for ensuring a happier holiday season.

TIP No. 1: Good Behavior in Someone Else’s Home

At some point prior to arriving at someone else’s home for a holiday party, get to your child’s eye level and go over the rules for being at the party. You may even ask them to explain the rules to you and don’t be surprised if they already know. Throughout the event, acknowledge them every time you witness the behavior you want. If their behavior has been a problem in the past, tell them there will be a consequence to bad behavior and that consequence will be leaving the party. If you choose this option, be ready to implement it immediately, and don’t punish them. The punishment is the departure itself and your complete silence on the drive home.

TIP No. 2: Reduce the Toys and Gifts

A few weeks before the holiday season arrives, allow your child to lead an activity to thin out the usable toys and clothes they already have and then donate them to a local charity. Let your child have as much participation in the process, especially the delivery to the donation center. Commit to buying your children less toys. Too many can create visual chaos and excess stimulation, and certainly do not teach crucial lessons of moderation and limits.

TIP No. 3: Take Care of Yourself

When you become stressed over the holidays, your appearance of being frantic and frazzled will be felt by the children and they too will begin to simulate it in their own way. Take time out for yourself to recharge your batteries. You need extra rest, exercise, and healthy eating, ingredients for greater self-control and patience.

TIP No. 4: Teach Children Gratitude

Make it a priority to get your family involved in a giving exercise this holiday season. Donate your time to volunteer for a charitable organization by wrapping gifts for a gift collection agency, delivering a meal to a homebound elder, or serving the hungry at a soup kitchen.   This act of compassion will remain with your children for a very long time. During the Thanksgiving holiday, my family and I would prepare and deliver a meal to an elderly person living alone. I’ll never forget the year we delivered our dinner to an elderly lady who was so grateful for our gift, she cried as we left. My son was silent as we drove away and he had tears welling in his eyes.

TIP No. 5: Don’t Over Schedule

During the holidays we automatically think about wanting to connect and be with family and friends. But if past holidays have not been fond memories because of over scheduling, reconsider your plans for this year and commit to simplifying the family calendar or take a vacation away from home. This move may require having to say no to some invitations or changing routines. One family we connect with often makes it a point to avoid the holiday rush. They plan plenty of get-togethers throughout the year and then travel during Thanksgiving and/or Christmas.

TIP No. 6: Set Realistic Expectations for the Kids

Let’s face it; November and December are exciting times for the kids and stressful or busy times for you. This guarantees that your children are going to behave differently and it will be a challenge getting them to cooperate and remain calm. Clarify your boundaries and rules and be patient when their excitement gets in the way. Remind yourself about the true meaning of the holidays; it’s not about having the perfect family. A big mistake parents make is remembering the holidays from their childhood and trying to recreate them today.

TIP No. 7: Create the Reverence of New Traditions

Participating in family traditions that were passed down can be fun and exciting, but it can also add to the stress of the holidays when it means having to recreate complex meals, trips, and events that originally belonged to someone else. Take bold steps to create new traditions for your immediate family that will leave lasting impressions, regardless of how simple they might be. When my children were young, we started a new tradition of allowing the kids to open one gift on Christmas Eve. We intentionally gave them new pajamas in this one special gift and they would be the pajamas they would wear to bed that night. Each year after that, I came up with fun and creative ways of disguising the gift to keep them guessing, because they knew what they would find in the packages. Creating new and fun traditions and faithfully celebrating them each year with consistency will teach your children how to do it themselves when they have families of their own.

TIP No. 8: Be the Person You Want Your Children to Be

Finally, there is no better way to teach your children how to enjoy the holidays than to demonstrate being the person you want them to be. The most powerful training your children will ever have is the observations they make of your behavior on a daily basis. Work hard to remain calm and loving throughout the holidays. When you find yourself on the threshold of an emotional reaction to someone else’s behavior, ask yourself if what you’re about to say or do will bring your family closer together, or create more distance. Being close of course, is what the holidays are all about!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Corbett

Bill is the author of the award-winning parenting book series, Love, Limits, & Lessons: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Cooperative Kids (in English and in Spanish) and the executive producer and host of the public access television show Creating Cooperative Kids. He is a Western Mass native and grew up in the Northampton area. As a member of the American Psychological Association and the North American Society for Adlerian Psychology, Bill provides parent coaching and keynote presentations to parent and professional audiences across the country. He sits on the board of the Network Against Domestic Abuse, the Resource Advisory Committee for Attachment Parenting International, and the management team of the Springfield Parent Academy. Bill’s practical experience comes as a father of 3 grown children, a grandfather of two, and a stepdad to three, and resides in the area with his loving wife Elizabeth and teen step daughter Olivia.  You can learn more about Bill and his work at www.CooperativeKids.com.

6 Holiday Podcasts from the Hilltown Family Variety Show

Hilltown Family Variety Show
Holiday Radio Shows/Podcasts

Originally broadcasted out of Northampton, MA on WXOJ-LP 103.3FM (Valley Free Radio) for the holidays, we’ve gathered six holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show from over the years to share with your family as we celebrate the season. Enjoy these commercial-free podcasts that celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, the New Year and the spirit of peace and giving.


The Heart of Chanukah with Guest DJ, Doni Zasloff Thomas
(The Mama Doni Band) ◊ Playlist/Video

Doni Zasloff Thomas (Mama Doni) brings The Heart of Chanukah to the Hilltown Family Variety Show with a lively program of songs and stories for Chanukah, including musical selections from Sha Na Na, The GrooveBarbers, and Woody Guthrie, along with Mama Doni Band originals, including “Chanukah Fever,” “Latke Man,” and “Honey. This Ain’t Money.” She also reads a Chanukah story, offer some great family activities for the holiday, and share some of her favorite Chanukah recipes, such as Judah Mac-N-Cheese and Choco-latkes. – Story: “Too Many Latkes” by Richard Codor


Hilltown Family Variety Show Holiday Episode
Playlist/Video

HFVS producer Sienna Wildfield hosts a holiday show celebrating Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice and Kwanzaa. Music from years past by artist like The Jackson, Burl Ives, Gene Aurty and the Vince Guaraldi Trio, interwoven with kindie artists like Uncle Rock, Recess Monkey, Ben Rudnick & Friends and Laurie Berkner make a fun show for the whole family!


Christmas Show with Guest DJ, Ashley Albert
(The Jimmies) ◊ Playlist/Video

Ashley Albert of The Jimmies Guest DJs the Hilltown Family Variety Show for Christmas, spinning tunes by Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Smithereens, Granvile Williams Orchestra, The Drifters, The Ramones, The Enchanters and songs off of her holiday CD, Mama Said Nog You Out. – Story: “The Fridgeville Chronicles: Jelly and Peanut Butter” by Ashley Albert


Winter Solstice Show with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn
(Charity and the JAMBand) ◊ Playlist/Video

Charity Kahn of Charity and the JAMBand Guest DJs a holiday show for the Hilltown Family Variety Show with a Winter Solstice theme of light, love, community and music! – Story: “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen


Hilltown Family Variety Show Holiday Peace Episode
Playlist/Video

HFVS producer Sienna Wildfield and co-host Persephone (6yo) host a post-holidays pre-New Year’s Day show with music reflecting the season and songs of peace by great musicians, including Lui Collins, Timmy Abell, The Hullabaloos, Johnny Mathis, Rosemary Clooney, and many others. – Story: Fawnie Byer reads “Peace Feather Story” off of Peace in the World Smiling


Hilltown Family Variety Show New Year’s Day Peace Episode
Playlist

HFVS producer Sienna Wildfield and co-host Persephone (5yo) host a New Year’s Day episode with music about both world and inner peace for the New Year.  Music by Babtunde Olatunji, Cat Stevens, Elizabeth Mitchell, Sweet Honey in the the Rock, Michelle Shocked, Pete Seeger and many other amazing musicians. – Story: Fawnie Byer reads “Peace Feather Story” off of Peace in the World Smiling

Suggested Events for December 8th-14th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Did you know that Christmas trees were pretty much only a German tradition until the 1840s, when Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, gave her a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, and the custom began to catch on in the English-speaking world? Discover more about the history of holiday traditions at Old Stubridge Christmas by Candlelight.

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

On Saturday, Dec. 8th from 10am-5pm in Franklin CountyHOLIDAY STROLL: 7th annual holiday celebration, “A Special Day in Northfield.” The event is a non-commercial community holiday celebration that offers families an opportunity to explore, be creative, and enjoy what Northfield has to offer! Local artists and antiques stores will be open, too, so if you want to do any holiday shopping, you can shop locally and/or handmade. 413-498-5921 or 413-498-2414. Free parking behind 105 Main Street. Northfield, MA (FREE)

On Saturday, Dec. 8th from 11am in Berkshire CountyHOLIDAYS/MUSEUM ADVENTURES: The Berkshire Museum hosts the Festival of Trees Family Day today!  The event includes fun family activities, performances, and, of course, the museum’s hall filled with beautiful and uniquely decorated Christmas trees.  There will be special events taking place throughout the day, including a visit from some of the fascinating animals at Burpee’s Zoo (11am), cookie decorating and a cookie contest (supplies for decorating provided, BYO cookies for contest – participants should bring 4 dozen of their favorite cookie and register in advance), and performances by the Taconic High School chorus and the Berkshire Singers.  413-443-7171.  39 South Street.  Pittsfield, MA.  (FREE with museum admission)

On Saturday, Dec. 8th from 1-4pm in Hampden CountyVICTORIAN HOLIDAY: The Wistariahurst Museum invites families to make Victorian crafts at their Holiday Crafts for the Family event. Learn how to make Christmas crackers, beautiful beaded ornaments, lanterns and more! Reservations suggested.   Santa will also be at the museum to read “The Night Before Christmas” at 4:30pm by the fire. 413-322-5660. 238 Cabot Street. Holyoke, MA (>$)

On Sunday, Dec 9th from 12noon-4pm in Hampshire CountyHANNUKAH: Celebrate the Jewish festival of lights with the Yiddish Book Center!  There will be a performance of The Magic Dreidel at 2pm, before which will be two workshops for families that will teach Hannukah songs and lines from the show so that community members can participate in the performance!  A workshop for ages 8+ takes place from 12noon-12:30pm, and a workshop for ages 3-8 takes place from 12:30-1:30pm.  All are welcome!  413-256-4900.  1021 West Street.  Amherst, MA.  (FREE)

SANTA SIGHTINGS

If your kids are looking forward to meeting Santa, but you just can’t bear the thought of going to the mall, there are several non-commercial venues to see Santa this weekend.  Here are a few:

  • Dalton: Santa at the Dalton CRA on Saturday.
  • Florence: Breakfast with Santa at Look Park on Saturday.
  • Holyoke: Santa visit Holyoke City Hall on Saturday.
  • Holyoke: Santa at Wistariahurst Museum on Saturday.
  • Lenox Dale: Santa at Veterans Memorial Park on Sunday.
  • Westfield: Breakfast with Santa at Westfield State University on Saturday.
  • West Springfield: Santa at West Springfield Senior Center Community Breakfast on Sunday.
  • West Springfield: Santa at Mitteneague Park on Sunday.

BULLETIN BOARD

Dec. 7th-9th

Welcome Yule: A Midwinter Celebration. Music, dance, songs and stories celebrating the return of the light. The 28th annual show with songs about feasting and festivities, a lively Mummer’s Play, and a traditional folk story. The Shea Theater at 71 Avenue A in Turners Falls on Dec. 7th & 8th at 7:30pm and Sun., Dec. 9th at 2pm. Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for seniors & children, four & under free. Bring a non-perishable item for the Franklin Area Survival Center and receive a free snack at intermission! Reserve tickets at 413-863-2281 or purchase in advance at Jones Library in Amherst, Broadside Books in Northampton, the World Eye Bookstore in Greenfield, or online at Brattleborotix.com. More info: www.welcomeyule.org. 413-665-3206.

Dec. 7th-9th

Pioneer Valley Ballet is proud to present its 34th annual production of the Nutcracker, an enchanting, classic ballet production at the landmark Academy of Music Theatre: Fri, Dec. 7 at 4pm & 7:30pm, and Sat, Dec. 8 & Sun, Dec. 9. at 1pm & 4:30pm. All tickets are reserved seating and available online and in person at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Senior discounts available in person only. To purchase tickets, call the Pioneer Valley Ballet at 413-527-6363, or the Academy of Music box at 413-584-9032 x105, or visit www.academyofmusictheatre.com. All shows have discounted high school & college student RUSH seats available 1/2 hour prior each performance at box office window. RUSH seats are restricted to upper balcony only.

Dec. 8th

Meet the Illustrator at the Montague Bookmill (440 Greenfield Rd. Montague). Brendan Flannelly-King is a children’s illustrator from Ashfield and his first picture book is coming out! Come celebrate Good News Nelson (written by Jodi Moore and published by Story Pie Press) with him as he signs, sells and reads from the book Saturday, December 8th at the Montague Bookmill from 11am-1:30pm. Its a heartwarming story of neighbors helping neighbors, youth empowerment, animal rescue, compassion and friendship with adorable little kitties throughout! Visit www.storypiepress.com to learn more about Good News Nelson. A portion of proceeds will go to The Humane Society of the United States and Dakin Pioneer Valley Humane Society.

Dec. 9th

Fire in the Darkness: A Winter Hanukkah Festival. As winter solstice approaches, Hanukkah is a welcome opportunity to bathe in light. Everyone is warmly welcomed to a joyous Hanukkah celebration to celebrate the Jewish festival of light. Performances by local fire dancers, live music, latkes, candle-lighting and a toasty bonfire. Dress warmly! Sunday, November 9th from 4-6pm at Congregation Bnai Israel, 253 Prospect Street, in Northampton, MA. 413-584-3593. Contact rabbijacob@cbinorthampton.org for more information.

ADVERTISE YOUR FALL/HOLIDAY EVENT: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
December 8th-14th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas by Candlelight: A Celebration of the History on Holiday Traditions

Old Sturbridge Village hosts Christmas by Candlelight
Celebration of favorite holiday traditions, music & food
Nine evening events set for Dec. 7-9; 14-16; 21-23

The legend of Santa has complex origins, blending diverse tales of magical gift givers with Christian beliefs. Dutch settlers in 17th-century New Amsterdam (New York) brought with them the legend of Saint Nicholas (Sinter Klaus), a 4th-century Christian saint from Turkey known for his generosity to children.

Take a break from the overwhelming wave of commercialized holiday “spirit” that the post-Thanksgiving season brings – visit Old Sturbridge Village for Christmas by Candlelight, which offers an incredibly wide variety of family-friendly holiday activities, performances, demonstrations, readings, crafts, and more!  Villagers dressed in period costume will share holiday traditions from early New England – many of which formed the foundation upon which modern day holiday celebrations have been built!  Families can learn about the roots of traditions such as yule logs, roasting chestnuts over a fire, building gingerbread houses, and even having a Christmas tree!

Friday-Sunday evenings from 4-9pm through December 23rd, the village will come alive with performances by Victorian carolers, Celtic music groups, handbell choirs, chorus groups and fife and drum corps.  Visitors can view an exhibit of exquisite handmade gingerbread houses or see a miniature New England village decorated for the holiday, a model train show, or a 100+ piece nativity scene.  There will be hands-on ornament making (using tin, and utilizing basic skills used by early New England metalworkers), as well as other holiday crafts.

A visit to the village can become a new holiday tradition for families, and is also a fantastic way for families to learn about history – hands-on!  Each of the traditions being practiced and/or demonstrated throughout the village is specific to a particular period in American history, and families can work together to place each of their activities into a broader historical context.  Visitors can actually see “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” and hear why they were a favored treat in early New England. They can also learn the origins of candy canes, mistletoe, fruitcake and how poinsettias were introduced to this country.

For more information on Christmas by Candlelight, call Old Sturbridge Village at 800-733-1830 or visit www.osv.org.  Admission includes a free second visit within a 10-day period and any guests of second-day visitors receive a 25% discount on their admission. You could also inquire with your local library to see if they have a museum pass to OSV to lend.  Monson Free Library,  Westfield Athenaeum Library and Wilbraham Public Library all have passes to lend.  Check with the nearest library near you too.

Did You Know?

The old folk tale of Hansel and Gretel, made famous by the brothers Grimm, inspired many Germans in the early 1800s to create model witches’ houses from hard gingerbread. Building fanciful gingerbread houses at Christmastime spread to America by the late 1800s.

  •  Most early New Englanders did not celebrate Christmas.  They saw Christmas celebrations as dangerous foreign (pagan) perversions of pure Christianity and an excuse for sinful behavior.
  • Yule logs began as a pagan reminder of the light and warmth of the sun on cold mid-winter nights. The word “Yule” is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word “hweol,” which means “wheel” – a pagan symbol of the sun. The burning of a Yule log originated with the Druids, The modern practice of decorating trees and buildings with flashing electric lights seems to be a logical extension of the lighting of candles and bonfires at Christmas time.
  • Christmas trees were pretty much only a German tradition until the 1840s, when Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, gave her a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, and the custom began to catch on in the English-speaking world.

 (Source of Facts & Photos: Old Sturbridge Village)

Suggested Events for December 1st-7th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Hilltown Families 3rd Annual Board Game Swap happens this Saturday, Dec. 1st from 9:30-10:30am in the community room at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, MA. It’s free and open to all! Bring your games to swap!

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Saturday, December 1st from 11am-4pm – WINTER FESTIVAL/HISTORY: Join Storrowton Village in celebrating the holiday season and the coming of winter at the Winter Festival! Along with tours of the beautifully decorated village, there will be demonstrations of 19th century crafts, ice sculpting, crafts for kids, music performances, storytelling, caroling, animals to meet and learn about, and more. 413-737-2443. 1305 Memorial Avenue. West Springfield, MA. (<$)

Saturday, December 1st from 4-7pm – HOLIDAY STROLL: Downtown Williamstown comes alive for the holidays tonight! This year’s annual holiday walk begins with a parade on Spring Street (beginning at 4:15), a visit from Santa, a performance of, “A Christmas Carol,” live music, sleigh rides, reindog parade, a tree lighting, and more! Spring and Water Streets. Williamstown, MA. (FREE)

Saturday, December 1st from 4:30-6pm – TREE LIGHTING: Northampton is lighting up for the holidays tonight! Visit Pulaski Park to see Santa and Mrs. Claus (arriving via fire truck!), participate in caroling, enjoy cookies and cocoa, and, of course, see the tree be lit for the first time. Main Street. Northampton, MA. (FREE)

Sunday, December 2nd from 12noon-2pm – HOLIDAY STROLL: Experience Main Street in Stockbridge just like Norman Rockwell did during the Stockbridge Holiday Stroll! Downtown Stockbridge will be filled with antique cars, carolers will perform all over town, and there will be fun family activities for all!  The re-creation is a unique opportunity to experience Norman Rockwell’s work in real life!  413-298-5200.  Main Street.  Stockbridge, MA.  (<$)

HILLTOWN FAMILIES EVENTS

Deadline: December 1st

Call for Youth Photographers: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House, originally schedule for this fall, now scheduled for the month of January 2013. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry has been extended to Dec 1st, 2012. An application and entry rules can be downloaded here: Places We Live, Play & Learn Application Form (pdf).

Hilltown Families Board Game SwapOn Saturday, December 1st from 9:30-10:30am, Hilltown Families is hosting a Board Game Swap in the Meekins Library community room in Williamsburg, MA. Bring in board games, puzzles & card games you would like to swap with other families. New this year, incomplete games are welcomed and will be donated to the Northampton Creative ReUse Committee. A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for the children in your life too! Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to all families. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

Dec. 1st

On Sat. Dec. 1st, Greenfield Center School will again host a Crafty Rumpus Open House. This is a creative, free holiday gift making event for children ages 3-12. New this year they will have a Middle School Melee—a party celebrating 5th-8th graders with an indoor bounce house, dance party, henna tattoos and even a chocolate fountain. In addition: savory and sweet foods available for purchase, free pony rides, and admissions information available. Come, meet the teachers and families of the Center School. Enjoy a day of fun and creativity. All are welcome! For directions: www.centerschool.net and check out the Rumpus website: www.craftyrumpus.com. Crafty Rumpus and Middle School Melee. Sat. Dec. 1st, 10am-2pm. Greenfield, MA.

Dec. 7th-9th

Pioneer Valley Ballet is proud to present its 34th annual production of the Nutcracker, an enchanting, classic ballet production at the landmark Academy of Music Theatre: Fri, Dec. 7 at 4pm & 7:30pm, and Sat, Dec. 8 & Sun, Dec. 9. at 1pm & 4:30pm. All tickets are reserved seating and available online and in person at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Senior discounts available in person only. To purchase tickets, call the Pioneer Valley Ballet at 413-527-6363, or the Academy of Music box at 413-584-9032 x105, or visit www.academyofmusictheatre.com. All shows have discounted high school & college student RUSH seats available 1/2 hour prior each performance at box office window. RUSH seats are restricted to upper balcony only.

ADVERTISE YOUR FALL/HOLIDAY EVENT: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

“I love that Hilltown Families is offering such great opportunities for Parents’ Night Out–it’s a wonderful addition to your great resources which help keep our whole family actively engaged with local goodness.” – Kate Kruckemeyer (Holyoke, MA)

PARENTS’ NIGHT OUT: WIN TICKETS: Hilltown Families  and Signature Sounds have partnered up to offer a pair of tickets to The Sweetback Sisters’ Country Christmas Singalong Spectacular at the Iron Horse in Northampton on Sunday, Dec. 9th at 7pm! We also have a couple of copies of their new CD to giveaway too! Find out how you can enter to win HERE. Deadline to enter to win: by midnight, 12/5.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
December 1st-6th, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun for Early December, 2012

Berkshire County Highlights for Families:
December 1st-14th, 2012

Experience Main Street in Stockbridge just like Norman Rockwell did during the Stockbridge Holiday Stroll on Sun., Dec. 2nd from 12noon-2pm. Downtown Stockbridge will be filled with antique cars, carolers will perform all over town, and there will be fun family activities for all! The re-creation is a unique opportunity to experience Norman Rockwell’s work in real life!

The holidays are here and they’re celebrating in the Berkshires!  Holiday strolls are taking place in Williamstown, Great Barrington and Stockbridge during these first two weeks of December. Santa’s making his rounds visiting Crane & Company’s Model Farm, Dalton CRA, Lilac Park, Lenox Fire Department, and the Berkshire Museum.  Gingerbread houses are being built at Hops & Vines and the Lenox Library, and latkes are being fried up at Wild Oats… and people and chorus groups are singing and performing all over the region!

Find out about these events and other community events and learning opportunities happening throughout Berkshire County through Dec 14th, 2012:

North Berkshire
Central Berkshire
South Berkshire

To find out what’s happening throughout the four counties of Western MA, check our comprehensive list of Weekly Suggested Events, published every Thursday! There you will also find our list of ongoing weekday playgroups, storyhours and events both in Berkshire County and throughout the region.

List of Weekly Suggested Events

Read the rest of this entry »

Four Holiday Strolls in the Berkshires

Holiday Strolls in the Berkshires

Four Holiday Strolls and town celebrations are planned for the Berkshires, including the towns of North Adams, Williamstown and Stockbridge.  A fourth Holiday Stroll will happen in Great Barrington on Saturday, December 8th from 4-7:30pm. Take the family and stroll downtown, alive with holiday spirit!  Find out more about the Great Barrington Holiday Stroll on the Southern Berkshire Chamber of Commerce website.

As the temperature slowly drops and the skies become increasingly more grey, towns across Western Massachusetts are beginning to look more and more festive by the minute!  Leafless trees now don coats of twinkling lights, streetlights are wrapped cozily in strands of deep green garland, and bright red bows decorate wreaths – welcoming both visitors and the holiday season.  Begin your family’s holiday season this weekend by visiting one of the holiday strolls being offered!

Downtown North Adams’ Hometown Holidays series continues on Thursday, November 29th from 5-8pm.  Local businesses will have extended hours and special deals for holiday shopping, and there will be fun family activities taking place throughout town.  Kids can get holiday masterpieces painted on their chilly pink cheeks, exercise their creativity making holiday crafts (which might also make great gifts!), and sing along to live holiday music.  More information available on the City of North Adams website.

Carolers, theatrical performers, horses, and even Santa Claus himself will be in Williamstown on Saturday, December 1st, for the town’s annual Holiday Walk!  The event takes place from 4-7pm, and features everything from holiday crafts and a bake-off to sleigh rides and a parade.  There will be live music throughout town for the duration of the event, including performances by jazz groups, a bell choir, and community chorus groups.  “A Christmas Carol,” will be performed at 5:45pm at The Log, the Reindog Parade will march down Spring Street at 4:15pm, and the Williamstown Cub Scouts will be collecting toys at 69 Spring Street all night!  The event ends with the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree, done by Santa himself.  A full list of events is available on the Williamstown Chamber’s website.

The town of Stockbridge will be celebrating the holidays all weekend – all over town!  On Saturday, December 1st, families can explore local historic properties on the Holiday House Tour.  The tour, which is self-guided and takes place from 11am-4pm, includes historic gems such as Naumkeag, The Mount, and Elms Cottage, and is a great way for older students to learn about local history.  That evening, downtown Stockbridge will be lit by candlelight during the annual Caroling Luminaria Walk, beginning at the Red Lion Inn (BYO candle or flashlight!).  The walk ends at the First Congregational Church, where Berkshire Lyric and the Blafield Children’s Chorus will perform holiday music.  Sunday, December 2nd, brings a second set of exciting holiday events in Stockbridge – including Main Street at Christmas, a re-creation of Norman Rockwell’s famous painting of the same name.  The town’s main street will be filled with antique cars and holiday decorations – transforming Stockbridge into a vintage wonderland!  There will be caroling, crafts, and sleigh rides, too.  For more information on locations and ticketing, visit the Stockbridge Chamber’s website.

Suggested Events for November 24th-30th, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

The holiday season is upon us! We asked our readers for recommendations on where to get a locally grown Christmas Tree. Check out these recommendations on fun places to go with the family to choose/cut your own, and add to the list.

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

WEEKEND BEST BETS

Saturday, Nov. 24th from 1-4pm - MUSEUM ADVENTURE/COMICS: The Norman Rockwell Museum is hosting an afternoon full of superhero-themed fun, to accompany an exhibit of comic book art. Kids are encouraged to come dressed as their favorite superhero (from a comic book or their imagination!), and can explore the museum, do art activities, listen to storytellers, and more. 413-298-4100. 9 Route 183. Stockbridge, MA. (FREE with museum admission)

Saturday, Nov. 24th at 2pm and 3pm – FAMILY THEATER: Picture Book Theater presents Eric Carle’s The Very Quiet Cricket and The Very Lonely Firefly – puppet style! – at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. See these classic children’s stories come alive with all of the beauty of Carle’s signature collaged illustrations. 413-658-1100. 125 West Bay Road. Amherst, MA. (<$)

Sunday, Nov. 25th at 11am – COMMUNITY WALK: The annual Gorge Apres Gorge, a sweet post-Thanksgiving community tradition in the heart of the Hilltowns, takes place on Sunday at the Chesterfield Gorge. Bring your family and friends and stroll along the Westfield River in a post-Thanksgiving community walk (you can run too). A 5K run happens earlier at 9am to benefit the Trustees of Reservations ($). BYO potluck items to share with other participants after the walk. Chesterfield Gorge. Ireland Street. West Chesterfield, MA. (FREE)

HILLTOWN FAMILIES EVENTS

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night: Join Hilltown Families for an evening of volunteering together with your family during our first ever Family Community Service Night! On Friday, November 30th from 4:30-7:30pm in Northampton, families can come together for a fun evening visiting five different volunteer stations, each offering a simple, hands-on service project for all ages. Volunteering as a family helps children learn values like kindness, respect and friendliness, and on this evening you can volunteer with five different local non-profits in a single evening! Space is limited so reserve a spot for your family today!

Call for Youth Photographers: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House, originally schedule for this fall, now scheduled for the month of January 2013. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry has been extended to Dec 1st, 2012. An application and entry rules can be downloaded here: Places We Live, Play & Learn Application Form (pdf).

Hilltown Families Board Game SwapOn Saturday, December 1st from 9:30-10:30am, Hilltown Families is hosting a Board Game Swap in the Meekins Library community room in Williamsburg, MA. Bring in board games, puzzles & card games you would like to swap with other families. New this year, incomplete games are welcomed and will be donated to the Northampton Creative ReUse Committee. A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for the children in your life too! Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to all families. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD


Dec. 1st

On Sat. Dec. 1st, Greenfield Center School will again host a Crafty Rumpus Open House. This is a creative, free holiday gift making event for children ages 3-12. New this year they will have a Middle School Melee—a party celebrating 5th-8th graders with an indoor bounce house, dance party, henna tattoos and even a chocolate fountain. In addition: savory and sweet foods available for purchase, free pony rides, and admissions information available. Come, meet the teachers and families of the Center School. Enjoy a day of fun and creativity. All are welcome! For directions: www.centerschool.net and check out the Rumpus website: www.craftyrumpus.com. Crafty Rumpus and Middle School Melee. Sat. Dec. 1st, 10am-2pm. Greenfield, MA.

Dec. 7th-9th

Pioneer Valley Ballet is proud to present its 34th annual production of the Nutcracker, an enchanting, classic ballet production at the landmark Academy of Music Theatre: Fri, Dec. 7 at 4pm & 7:30pm, and Sat, Dec. 8 & Sun, Dec. 9. at 1pm & 4:30pm. All tickets are reserved seating and available online and in person at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Senior discounts available in person only. To purchase tickets, call the Pioneer Valley Ballet at 413-527-6363, or the Academy of Music box at 413-584-9032 x105, or visit www.academyofmusictheatre.com. All shows have discounted high school & college student RUSH seats available 1/2 hour prior each performance at box office window. RUSH seats are restricted to upper balcony only.

ADVERTISE YOUR FALL/HOLIDAY EVENT: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

For November we are pleased to offer a chance to win one of two pairs of tickets to see Jake Shimabukuro at the Calvin Theater in Northampton, MA at 8pm on Saturday, De. 1st, 2012. Deadline to enter: Tues., 11/27.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
November 24th-30th 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for November 17th-23rd, 2012

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Next Thursday, Nov. 22nd is Thanksgiving and there are several opportunities to stock up on local ingredients for your family Thanksgiving Dinner, including in Easthampton on Friday, Nov. 16th, Great Barrington and Amherst on Saturday, Nov. 17th, and Shelburne on Sunday, Nov. 18th.  (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school/homeschool class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business/school, service, open house, volunteer opportunity or general announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Saturday, November 17th from 10am-3pm - HOLIDAY FAIR/CRAFT MAKING: Go on a hayride, dip candles, make your own holiday gifts, see a marionette show, enjoy homemade food, and more at the Hartsbrook School’s Holiday Fair!  The Pocket Lady and King Winter might even pay a visit!  413-586-1908.  193 Bay Road.  Hadley, MA.  (FREE ENTRANCE, >$)

Saturday, November 17th from 10am-3pm – MYO HOLIDAY GIFTS: Four Rivers Charter School is hosting a homemade holiday craft event, where families can create their own unique and handmade gifts!  Bring your gift list, and your creativity.  413-775-4577.  248 Colrain Road.  Greenfield, MA.

Sunday, November 18th at 5pm – CHRISTMAS TREE LIGHTING: The holidays have begun – and the tree at Yankee Candle will be lit tonight!  Visit the company’s flagship store for the tree lighting, which will feature a visit from Santa himself, as well as carolers, hot chocolate, and cookies.  877-636-7707.  25 Greenfield Road.  Deerfield, MA.  (FREE)

HILLTOWN FAMILIES EVENTS

Hilltown Families’ Family Community Service Night: Join Hilltown Families for an evening of volunteering together with your family during our first ever Family Community Service Night! On Friday, November 30th from 4:30-7:30pm in Northampton, families can come together for a fun evening visiting five different volunteer stations, each offering a simple, hands-on service project for all ages. Volunteering as a family helps children learn values like kindness, respect and friendliness, and on this evening you can volunteer with five different local non-profits in a single evening! Space is limited so reserve a spot for your family today!

Call for Youth Photographers: Western MA youth photographers ages 8-18 are invited to participate in an upcoming exhibit titled, “Places We Live, Play & Learn: Narratives of Life by Western Massachusetts Youth Photographers.” Hosted by Hilltown Families with the support of the Cummington Cultural Council, the exhibit will be on display at the Cummington Community House Gallery in the rear of the Cummington Community House, originally schedule for this fall, now scheduled for the month of January 2013. Exhibit gives youth an opportunity to explore their towns and document their findings both in images and a written narrative. Participation is free and open to all youth living in Western MA. Deadline for entry has been extended to Dec 1st, 2012. An application and entry rules can be downloaded here: Places We Live, Play & Learn Application Form (pdf).

Hilltown Families Board Game SwapOn Saturday, December 1st from 9:30-10:30am, Hilltown Families is hosting a Board Game Swap in the Meekins Library community room in Williamsburg, MA. Bring in board games, puzzles & card games you would like to swap with other families. New this year, incomplete games are welcomed and will be donated to the Northampton Creative ReUse Committee. A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for the children in your life too! Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to all families. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

Beginning Nov 17

The ClarkLions and Tigers and Museums, Oh My!, on view beginning November 17 at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s Stone Hill Center in Williamstown, utilizes video, hands-on activities, taxidermy, and innovative displays to create an exciting learning environment for all ages. The exhibition includes a magnificent specimen of an adult African lion as well as a lioness’s pelt, claws, and a skull that will be available to encourage hands-on exploration. Visitors try on a gauntlet as they try to balance a wooden block that approximates the size and weight of a falcon for a first-hand experience of the difficulty and delicate balance needed in falconry. Visit clarkart.edu to learn about the exhibition and other family events and programs.

Nov 18

On Sunday November 18th at 3pm, Jane Yolen, “The Hans Christian Andersen of America,” joins folksinger-songwriter Lui Collins in An Afternoon of Poetry and Song for all ages at the Ashfield Community Hall. This family-friendly concert features Jane’s poems interspersed with Lui’s songs, including several of Jane’s poems she has set to music. All proceeds benefit Upside-Up Music’s Scholarship Fund, making family music classes accessible in the Hilltowns. Refreshments, books and CDs available for sale and autographing at intermission. Suggested donation $12; students, seniors, low income $10; <12 $5; <2 free. Family maximum $29. Reservations requested: lui@luicollins.com.

ADVERTISE YOUR FALL/HOLIDAY EVENT: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the community development work of Hilltown Families! See your holiday event, open house, afterschool class, homeschool program, community celebration, workshop, school, or business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter, reaching thousands of families living throughout the four counties of Western MA! Find out more about our enhanced publicity packages and options and how we can help with your online marketing by emailing us at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming a Contributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including local reviews, DIY posts, seasonal cooking/local food, and community-based educational & community service learning opportunities/resources. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS
November 17th-23rd, 2012

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Suggest an Event | Forecast | Museum Passes | Weekly eNewsletter

Berkshire Family Fun

Read the rest of this entry »

Western MA Libraries Organize Community Alternatives to Holiday Consumerism and Consumption

Holidays are a Time to Give and Regift

Western MA libraries offer youth patrons a chance to focus on giving and not just receiving during the holiday season.

During the holiday season many Western MA libraries organize community alternatives to holiday consumerism and consumption while enabling their youth patrons to think about giving rather than just receiving for the holidays.

For over 20 years the Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield has hosted an annual Children’s Holiday Bazaar for their youth patrons. For several months leading up to the bazaar the library asks town residents to donate small items to be regifted during the bazaar (donations of gift bags, wrap, tags and tape are welcomed too). On the day of the bazaar the children’s room is transformed into a pop-up shop where kids ages 5-11 years old may shop for their family. All gifts are 50-cents,  gift wrapping included. During the bazaar parents are not allowed into the room and younger children are escorted by their very own personal shoppers – 6th graders and National Honor Society volunteers.  This year the Children’s Holiday Bazaar happens on Saturday, December 8th from 10am-12noon.

Newer to this regifting tradition is the Meekins Market at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg, now in its fifth year!  All patrons are welcome to both shop at and donate to the Meekins Market, which begins in late November and runs through December.  The market is a special in-house tag sale where families will find lots of small (and not so small) inexpensive recycled gifts to give friends and family. It’s a great place for children to find presents to give their parents, grandparents and teachers. Library patrons can stop in and shop (or donate items for regifting) any time during library hours. For more information call: 413-538-6489 or 413-268-7472.

Does your library have a holiday tradition, new or old, you’d like to share?  We’d love to hear!  All of these great traditions and ideas are an inspiration for communities both in and outside our region!

[Photo credit: (ccl) Sarah Parrott]

10 Ways Families Can Be Engaged in Their Community Post-Election in Western MA

Status Updates: Community Service Connections

For more community service connections, “Like” the Hilltown Families Facebook page for status updates!

Here are 10 ways families and teens can support their community and others post Hurricane Sandy and leading up to the holidays.  All of these suggestions were posted to the Hilltown Families Facebook page over the past week.  We offer daily updates and announcements on our Facebook page for families living throughout Western MA! If you haven’t already, be sure you not only “Like” our page, but that you add us to your Facebook News Feed and Interest Lists!

HURRICANE SANDY RELIEF EFFORTS

Is your family looking to volunteer in the Hurricane Sandy relief efforts? There is a Staten Island Relief project happening all week in the Pioneer Valley. A tractor trail is being filled with donated relief items and both donations and volunteers to load are needed. Locations include: Technique Studio of Dance (470 Newton St.) in South Hadley on Tues. (11/6) and Wed. (11/7) from 4:30-7:30pm; Nuvo Bank in Springfield (1500 Main St.) during regular business hours from 8am-5pm; and Hukelau Restaurant parking log (705 Memorial Dr.) in Chicopee on Fri. (11/9) from 9am-7pm. Suggested donation items include: water, blankets, contractor bags, clothing, shoes, boots, flashlights, batteries, cleaning supplies, baby needs (clothing, diapers), children’s toys and ready to eat food (pretzels, chips, cookies, etc.). Anything and everything is needed! – Email Darlene Sattler at TSD1997@aol.com to volunteer or to donate.

The Minerva Tag Sale Center in north Berkshire County is currently accepting donations for the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Minerva Arts Center writes, “We have sent a delivery of donations down today and are planning another in 10 days. Donations are accepted everyday.”

PARK CLEAN UP

On Saturday (11/10), bring the family and head to Springside Park, Pittsfield’s largest public park, and volunteer together with your community to clean up the park before the snow falls. Bring gloves and park at the upper playground (near the old zoo). Rain date: 11/11.

COMMUNITY DINNER

Saturday night (11/10) join the families from the Berkshire Trail Elementary School in Cummington for a community pasta supper with locally made sauce from Ooma Tesoro & bread from Bread Euphoria Bakery & Cafe. There will even be gluten free pasta for those who can’t have wheat. Two seatings. Follow the link for details:

DONATING USED TOYS

Looking for a place to donate your child(ren)’s used toys? Alison Webster asks, “Does anyone know where I could donate used, very good condition toys and they would go directly to kids/families?” Check out what our readers recommended and share your own ideas:

THANKSGIVING DONATIONS & VOLUNTEERS

The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Westfield is now accepting turkey donations for their 21st Annual Thanksgiving Dinner on Nov 15th at the Club for youth members and their families, free of charge! With over 200 people expected, volunteers are needed too to help serve and clean If your family is interested in volunteering please contact Kellie or at 413-562-2301 or lerryn@comcast.net.

YOUTH INTERNSHIPS

Internships Needed for Local Youths! The North Quabbin Community Coalitionis looking to fill paid and unpaid internship positions for local youth from both Athol High School and Ralph C. Mahar Regional Schools. These positions would offer the youth an opportunity to explore possible career opportunities and exploration, give them experience in a certain field and offer them the opportunity to learn. Some benefits to local businesses who are willing to hire youth can range from enthusiasm, eagerness to learn, creativity and adaptability. Youth thrive with change and are open to it, and most importantly they are consumers. If you are interested in hosting a youth internship, please contact Jennifer Desjardins at the North Quabbin Community Coalition at 978-249-3703 or Jennifer@nqcc.org.

FOOD DRIVE

The Emily Williston Library will offer its popular “Food for Fines” program the first three weeks of November to benefit the Easthampton Community Center Food Pantry. Patrons with outstanding fines for overdue materials may have their fines erased by donating canned food items, diapers, and toiletries. Follow the link to find out more:

WINTER COATS

Child Care of the Berkshires, Inc.‘s Family Resource Center in North Adams is in need of donations of children’s winter coats for their clothing exchange. Sizes ranging from infant through size 10 are needed. FRC will have donation boxes at their Play and Learn Groups and inside the door at Haskins Center in North Adams. Questions? Give them a call at 413-664-4821.

TEEN VOLUNTEERS

Moments House is looking for teens interested in being on their Jr. Board of Directors. If you know a teen who would be interested in becoming involved in any way with their mission to ensure no one faces a cancer diagnosis alone, call 413-443-6800. Moments House is a non-profit organization based out of South Lee, working to open a homelike gathering place where all Berkshire County families impacted by a cancer diagnosis can come together to gather information, and comfort and support one another. www.momentshouse.org

3 Holiday Podcasts from the Hilltown Family Variety Show

Hilltown Family Variety Show
Holiday Radio Shows/Podcasts

Originally broadcasted out of Northampton, MA on WXOJ-LP 103.3FM (Valley Free Radio) for the holidays, we’ve gathered three holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show that aired this December to share with your family as we finish out the year. Enjoy the podcasts!


Holiday Show with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn
(Charity and the JAMBand) ◊ Playlist/Video

Charity Kahn of Charity and the JAMBand Guest DJs a holiday show for the Hilltown Family Variety Show about light, love, community and music! – Story: “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen


Christmas Show Guest DJ, Ashley Albert
(The Jimmies) ◊ Playlist/Video

Ashley Albert of The Jimmies Guest DJs the Hilltown Family Variety Show for Christmas, spinning tunes by Squirrel Nut Zippers, The Smithereens, Granvile Williams Orchestra, The Drifters, The Ramones, The Enchanters and songs off of her holiday CD, Mama Said Nog You Out. – Story: “The Fridgeville Chronicles: Jelly and Peanut Butter” by Ashley Albert


The Heart of Chanukah with Guest DJ, Doni Zasloff Thomas
(The Mama Doni Band) ◊ Playlist/Video

Doni Zasloff Thomas (Mama Doni) brings The Heart of Chanukah to the Hilltown Family Variety Show with a lively program of songs and stories for Chanukah, including musical selections from Sha Na Na, The GrooveBarbers, and Woody Guthrie, along with Mama Doni Band originals, including “Chanukah Fever,” “Latke Man,” and “Honey. This Ain’t Money.” She also reads a Chanukah story, offer some great family activities for the holiday, and share some of her favorite Chanukah recipes, such as Judah Mac-N-Cheese and Choco-latkes. – Story: “Too Many Latkes” by Richard Codor

 

 

Suggested Events for Dec 17th-23rd, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Families can make gingerbread houses together in Greenfield on Saturday, Dec 17th as part of Community Action Family Center Programs Saturday STEM playgroup. Details below. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Enter to win a yearlong family membership to The Trustees for 2012 plus two adult stickers for cross-country skiing at Notchview in Windsor for the 2011-12 season. Deadline: 12/24.

On Saturday, Dec 17th at 6:30pm – SOLSTICE CELEBRATION: Celebrate the solstice at the Magical Roundhouse.  Celebrate the season by sharing stories about holding onto light and love during the darkest part of the year.  This is a community event, and is also pat of Colrain’s 250th birthday celebrations- stories about the community in Colrain will be featured!  This event is a way to introduce your family to solstice celebrations and a way to foster togetherness within the community.  Bring a snack to share and something to donate to the Franklin Area Survival Center.  413-625-5140.  68 Van Nuys Road.  Colrain, MA.  ($)

And in the morning on Sunday, Dec 18th from 11am-4pm - CHANUKAH CELEBRATION: The Yiddish Book Center hosts a Chanukah celebration today!  The event includes a Yiddish tish, family games, storytelling from Rona Leventhal, and at 2pm, the South Hadley Children’s Chorus will present a show including songs drawn from Jewish traditions and Chanukah!  413-256-4900.  1021 West Street.  Amherst, MA.  ($) 

The later in the afternoon on Sunday, Dec 18th from 3-5pm - CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION: Decorate cookies with the Easthampton Family Center!  There will be a sing-a-long with Mrs. Claus (Santa has a pretty busy schedule this weekend!) and free books for every family. 413-527-5496.  43 Main Street.  Easthampton, MA.  (<$)

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Enter to win tickets for a Parents' Night Out on New Year's Eve!

On Tuesday, Dec 27 at 4pm – CHANUKAH CELEBRATION: The Berkshire Mall host their annual tradition of lighting their giant menorah. All are invited and there will be an afternoon of live music, potato latkes, sufganiyot, games, dancing and much fun! 413-499-9899. 39 South Street. Pittsfield, MA (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

WINTER CIRCUS CAMP: Come beat the winter blues at SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton! A winter camp for ages 6-15 will be offered on December 28 and 29. These day camps will run from 9am – 3pm and it will cover all aspects of circus arts including trapeze, fabric, juggling, balancing, acrobatics, partnering, human pyramids, stretching, strength, and circus games. A great way for kids to get out during winter break and learn some new skills! Registration is limited so register early to guarantee a spot! Cost: $60/day. Visit www.showcircusstudio.com or call 413-527-6901 for more information. Sign up for both days for only $100! Add both days to your cart and at check out, use promotion code “WINTERCAMP” to get $20 off. Please contact the studio with any questions

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

The Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture writes, “Buy local… Christmas trees and holiday decorations!  Locally grown trees, wreaths, roping, and cemetery boxes are available now at farms and farm stands across the Valley. Make a family excursion of choosing and cutting a tree, or pick one that’s all ready to go. Either way, local trees, wreaths and greenery are fresh and long-lasting, and they smell good, too. Decorate your house while feeling good about your carbon footprint and your support for the local economy! See our list of local farms that sell holiday greenery.”

JOIN OUR TEAM OF CONTRIBUTING WRITERS: Interested in becoming aContributing or Guest Writer for Hilltown Families? We welcome writings that reflect the community building and educational efforts parents, teens, teachers, artists, activists and community leaders work towards and accomplish and how that affects, supports and empowers our families. All writing styles welcomed, including DIY posts, seasonal cooking, and community-based educational opportunities. Send your query to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Dec 17th-23rd, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: 16 Ways to Weave Family and Community Holiday Traditions Together in the Berkshires

Keeping Holiday Traditions Alive in the Berkshires

Currently my living room looks as if Christmas threw up all over it. Boxes of old decorations, more stockings than we have family members and pets combined (and that includes the three fish, cat and new puppy, Murphy), tree ornaments, Christmas villages, holiday-themed books, empty cookie tins and more lay strewn on top of couches, countertops, hardwood floors and coffee tables making it difficult to concentrate on the task at hand — writing this column. But as all three of my children have continued to remind me since the first day of December, it’s all about tradition!

ADVENTMOVIES  | FOOD | MUSIC | CHANUKAH | COOKIES

ADVENT TRADITION

The first holiday tradition I attempted to tackle this month was our unique (or maybe not so unique) way of counting down the days until Santa Claus arrives. Each year (preferably prior to Dec.1, but often occurring sometime within the first week of December) my husband drags the bags of nearly 50 holiday-themed books from the attic for me to peruse and wrap. I browse the titles, rescuing our favorites from the piles until I have 24 in front of me.

This year, I separated the books into two piles: one for my niece, Kylee, and one for us. Yearly favorites such as Olivier Dunrea’s Bear Noel, Elise Primavera’s Auntie Claus series, a version of E.E. Cummings Little Tree written and illustrated by Chris Raschka, and Patricia Rae Wolff’s A New Improved Santa made it into our pile, while extra copies of The Polar Express, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, and Twas the Night Before Christmas were tossed into Kylee’s, along with other 2-year-old appropriate stories that had long since been abandoned by my kids.

Then I wrapped each present in Christmas wrapping, each dated with the day of the month Dec. 1-24, each one ready to be unwrapped on its given day and read at bedtime. This tradition used to require my husband and I to take turns reading. Now McKenna, Max and Shea (ages 12, 12, and 10) alternate with Mark and I, either reading a page at a time and then passing it to the next family member, or claiming an entire book for themselves.

On Christmas Eve, the last book is always the same, though the version and illustrations may change. Twas the Night Before Christmas completes our holiday advent, and as the kids sit in their holiday pajamas, just opened a few hours earlier, all five of us (and at times it has been 20 of us, depending on which friends and family members join us for the evening) sit around the fire, candles burning and tree lights sparkling, where we recite the book (known almost by heart at this point), before sprinkling reindeer food in the backyard and heading off to bed where “visions of sugarplums dance in our heads.”

The Sheffield Historical Society will be sharing in a storytime tradition of its own this year with residents of the town on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 10:30 a.m. when Mrs. Santa Claus will read stories by local authors to visitors at the Old Stone Store on Route 7 in Sheffield. For more information visit www.sheffieldhistory.org.

Read the rest of this entry »

Q&A: Consumerism and Commercialization During the Holidays

QUESTION AND ANSWERS

Many families make their own gifts as a way to beat excessive consumerism and commercialization during the holidays. One DIY gift is a personalized clipboard (click on image to enlarge). Partner it with a ream of copy paper and a box of 8 colored pencils and give to the young artists in your life! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

How does YOUR family handle excessive consumerism and commercialization during the holidays?

  • Amanda Saklad writes, “We don’t visit any malls from October until February. Crazy out there!”
  • Meagheanne Donahue writes, “My son gets “ten and a goat”. Santa brings him ten Christmas presents (not big ticket items, usually just movies, Legos, board games, etc.) and a donation in his name to Heifer International. Santa even leaves a Heifer International card under the tree with a note about how it makes such a difference. My son is 8 year old, this is our 5th year doing “ten & a goat” and he LOVES it! Plus, it keeps him from going crazy with the “I wants” this time of year.”
  • Angelique Phoenix writes, “Just say no!”
  • Pauline Delton writes, “We don’t celebrate Christmas, and we were very clear when our son was a baby that we wanted him to love relatives/friends for who they are and not for what they buy (for birthdays, random gifts, for Christmas–which the relatives celebrate). We discussed our love for and the benefits of secondhand items, visits/passes/experiences instead of “things” that would break/take up space/etc. Despite this, we had a set of grandparents who would bring a new thing on a WEEKLY basis, and we talked with them once about it and then even more firmly a second time, and thankfully it stopped. I know some people say it’s rude to reject gifts, but once someone has dismissed your boundaries and has made the choice to do something you clearly didn’t want done, it’s not you who’s being rude. *shrug*”
  • Susan Countryman writes, “We focus on giving instead of getting–and incorporate handmade gifts.”
  • Phoebe Shaw writes, “We hide. Then we just buy them everything they want at the last possible minute.”
  • Dawn Klein writes, “I’m making some of my gifts and my one-year-old doesn’t watch the tube, so no Disney, Elmo, etc. I want her to use her imagination. I purchased some musical toys. Any other suggestions for her? Thanks.”
  • Desiree DuBois writes, “We make a lot of our gifts- jams, flavored vinegars, cordials, cookies or festive breads make nice gifts, or we buy locally made maple syrup or other products by local farmers & artists & value- added producers to keep as much money as possible in our local community.”
  • Tracy Tirrell Griffith writes, This year we are focusing on helping others and keeping things very simple and focusing on the true meaning of Christmas.”

Suggested Events for Dec 10th-16th, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Where do you get your local Christmas Tree/Hanukkah Bush? Click on the image to read recommendations for local farms made by our readers... and add one of your own! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Enter to win a yearlong family membership to The Trustees for 2012 plus two adult stickers for cross-country skiing at Notchview in Windsor for the 2011-12 season. Deadline: 12/24.

On Saturday, Dec 10th in Hampshire Co. from 10am-12Noon – TOY SWAP: The Northampton DPW & the ReUse Committee is sponsoring a Holiday Toy Exchange of clean gently used working toys and sports equipment at the Smith Vocational HS cafeteria. Parents without their kids are invited to join. Toys can be dropped off on 12/9 from 5-8pm and the day of from 9-10am.  All left over toys will be donated to charity. BYO bag. 413-587-1059. 80 Locust Street. Northampton, MA (FREE)

An all day on Saturday, Dec 10th in Franklin Co. from 10am-6pm – MYO CRAFTS/ART: There are fun art activities for kids happening all day today at the ArtSpace.  Kids can do portraits, help color a canvas, or do a sculpey or junk art workshop (registration required).  413-772-6811.  15 Mill Street.  Greenfield, MA.  (FREE)

In the afternoon on Saturday, Dec 10th in Hampden Co. from 1-3pm - VICTORIAN CRAFTS: The Wistariahurst Museum hosts an afternoon of Victorian holiday crafts for families!  You can make a clove-decorated pomander, Christmas crackers, and paper lanterns, and you’ll learn about what a Victorian Christmas was like!  Registration required.  413-322-5660.  238 Cabot Street.  Holyoke, MA.  (<$)

And towards the end of the day on Saturday, Dec 10th in Berkshire Co. from 3-8pm – HOLIDAY STROLL: Take a holiday stroll today in Great Barrington!  There will be all kinds of family activities, including childrens’ crafts, music all over town, a gallery walk, tree lighting, and fireworks!  Downtown Great Barrington, MA.  (FREE)

On Sunday, Dec 11th in Franklin Co. at 2pm – SOLSTICE/YULE PERFORMANCE: See “Welcome Yule” tonight, a show full of music and dance to drive the dark away!  Fun for the whole family.  Takes place at the Shea Theater.  413-863-2281.  71 Avenue A.  Turners Falls, MA.  ($)

And in Berkshire Co. on Sunday, Dec 11th at 2pm – FAMILY PERFORMANCE: Mill City Productions host Fireside Yuletide, a dramatic reading of many different holiday stories, and there will be carols and holiday treats!  Building 4 North.  Western Gateway Heritage State Park.  North Adams, MA.  (<$)

Scroll down to see our complete list of Weekly Suggested Events for the entire week, with nearly 80 event listings to choose from!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

Next Saturday, Dec 17th at 6:30pm – SOLSTICE CELEBRATION: Celebrate the solstice at the Magical Roundhouse.  Celebrate the season by sharing stories about holding onto light and love during the darkest part of the year.  This is a community event, and is also pat of Colrain’s 250th birthday celebrations- stories about the community in Colrain will be featured!  This event is a way to introduce your family to solstice celebrations and a way to foster togetherness within the community.  Bring a snack to share and something to donate to the Franklin Area Survival Center.  413-625-5140.  68 Van Nuys Road.  Colrain, MA.  ($)

BULLETIN BOARD

BALLET: Pioneer Valley Ballet is proud to present its 33rd annual production of the Nutcracker, an enchanting, classic ballet production at the landmark Academy of Music Theatre on Dec 9, 10, 11. All tickets are reserved seating and available online and in person at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Senior & MTA member discounts available in person only. To purchase tickets, please call the Pioneer Valley Ballet at 413-527-6363, or the Academy of Music box at 413-584-9032 x105, or visit www.academyofmusictheatre.com. All shows have discounted high school & college student RUSH seats available 1/2 hour prior each performance at the box office window. RUSH seats are restricted to upper balcony only.

CHILDREN’S BOOK & CD RELEASE PARTY: Local artists Amy Meltzer and Felicia Sloin celebrate the release of their new works The Shabbat Princess and Zeh Hayom with a festive family event. Read-aloud, concert, craft, havdallah, bagels and cake. Saturday, December 10 5:30 – 7:30, at Congregation Bnai Israel 253 Prospect Street Northampton. All are welcome. Free of charge.

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

Kristen Rhodes of Leeds, MA writes, “Looking to start a playgroup for my 4yo son. If your child is 3-6 & you are looking for a homeschooling playgroup, contact me!  I’m hoping to get together up to 5 mornings a week (9:30-11). My son has a severe peanut allergy so the group would need to be peanut free. I am willing to host, provide activities, & snacks (just let me know of food allergies/special diets) or we could meet at a peanut free facility if the group prefers…  Pretty much I’m looking for an alternative for preschool as he is in much need of play with other children & cannot attend most playgroups due to his severe allergy, I have a background in early childhood & wouldn’t mind facilitating. Anyone is interested in brainstorming some type of playgroup, let me know!”

The Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture writes, “Buy local… Christmas trees and holiday decorations!  Locally grown trees, wreaths, roping, and cemetery boxes are available now at farms and farm stands across the Valley. Make a family excursion of choosing and cutting a tree, or pick one that’s all ready to go. Either way, local trees, wreaths and greenery are fresh and long-lasting, and they smell good, too. Decorate your house while feeling good about your carbon footprint and your support for the local economy! See our list of local farms that sell holiday greenery.”


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Dec 10th-16TH, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Read the rest of this entry »

Suggested Events for Dec 3rd-9th, 2011

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast.

SUGGEST AN EVENT

Many towns host holiday strolls where families can enjoy walking around high-spirited Main Streets illuminated for the holidays while parents shop local and take in the celebratory atmosphere. Several Holiday Strolls are coming up this weekend and next! (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)

Suggest EventIf you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening, along with time, place, age appropriateness and costs before attending.

Enhanced PublicityServing Western Massachusetts since 2005, Hilltown Families supports development and enhancement of our local economy and community. Local businesses, individuals, schools and non-profits are encouraged to partner with Hilltown Families through sponsorship and advertising. Let us help get the word out about your after school class, event, camp, workshop, fundraiser, business or announcement. Deliver your message to thousands of families living throughout Western Massachusetts while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. Click HERE to find out more.

BEST BETS

Hilltown Families Board Game SwapOn Saturday, December 3rd from 9:30-10:30am: BOARD GAME SWAP: Hilltown Families is hosting a Board Game Swap in the Meekins Library community room in Williamsburg, MA. Bring in board games you would like to swap with other families. Kindly make sure the games have all their pieces before bringing in. A fun way to recycle old board games and to discover new ones. Board games make excellent holiday gifts for the children in your life too! Surprise them with a new recycled game. This community swap is free and open to all families. RSVP here, or just drop in. Williamsburg, MA (FREE)

Following the Board Game Swap on Saturday, December 3rd from 10am-3pm – MYO CRAFTS & HOLIDAY FAIR: Both kids and adults today can create unique handmade holiday gifts and crafts today at the Hilltown Cooperative Charter School’s Eco-craft Fair!  Materials are largely recycled or all-natural items, and activities include wreath making, decorating candles, mixing herbal teas, and creating hats and scarves from fleece.  The event also includes a book fair and local artisans and craftspeople will be selling their wares.  There will be live entertainment all day (including a performance from the school’s chorus!) and delicious homemade food is available.  413-268-3421.  132 Main Street (just down the street from the Meekins Library on Route 9).  Haydenville, MA.  (FREE ENTRANCE, >$ CRAFTS)

On Sunday, December 4th  from 12noon-2pm - HOLIDAY STROLL: Main Street at Christmas in the village of Stockbridge with antique cars, entertainment, Santa and holiday tunes. 413-298-5200. Stockbridge, MA (FREE)

And later on Sunday, December 4th  at 4pm and 7:30pm – VESPERS: Visit Mt. Holyoke College for their annual vespers service.  The college’s glee club, jass ensemble, choir, and handbell choir will perform, and there will be carols and a candlelight chant.  Abbey Memorial Chapel.  College Street.  South Hadley, MA.  (FREE)

Scroll down to see our complete list of Weekly Suggested Events for the entire week, with 70 event listings for this coming weekend alone!

MARK YOUR CALENDARS

On Saturday, Dec. 10th from 3-8pm – HOLIDAY STROLL: Take a holiday stroll today in Great Barrington!  There will be all kinds of family activities, including childrens’ crafts, music all over town, a gallery walk, tree lighting, and fireworks!  Downtown Great Barrington, MA.  (FREE)

On Sunday, Dec. 11th at 11:30am – CAROLING: Go caroling all over the community!  The event begins with a potluck lunch at St. John’s Corner in Ashfield, then heads to Poet’s Seat and finally the Buckley Nursing Home.  413-369-0240 or 413-625-9680.  Ashfield, MA; 259 High Street, Greenfield, MA; 95 Laurel Street, Greenfield, MA.  (FREE)

BULLETIN BOARD

BALLET: Pioneer Valley Ballet is proud to present its 33rd annual production of the Nutcracker, an enchanting, classic ballet production at the landmark Academy of Music Theatre on Dec 9, 10, 11. All tickets are reserved seating and available online and in person at the Academy of Music in Northampton. Senior & MTA member discounts available in person only. To purchase tickets, please call the Pioneer Valley Ballet at 413-527-6363, or the Academy of Music box at 413-584-9032 x105, or visit www.academyofmusictheatre.com. All shows have discounted high school & college student RUSH seats available 1/2 hour prior each performance at the box office window. RUSH seats are restricted to upper balcony only.

CRAFTED IN THE VILLAGE: December 3rd and 4th. Crafted in the Village. Open Studios and Craft booths all over Ashfield!  Shop with those who make what they use and use what they make.  Saturday 11am – 4pm  Sunday 11am – 2pm  Saturday night: Swing Caravan in Concert at Elmer’s Store! Dinner begins at 5, the concert starts at 7pm. Come early to shop, stay to eat and swing!  www.Elmersstore.com for information on everything!

Enter to win eco-friendly, locally-made, free-play toys & music from Easy Keepers. Deadline to enter to win: 12/5/11

OPEN HOUSE/CRAFTS: On Sat. Dec. 3rd, Greenfield Center School will again host a Crafty Rumpus Open House. This is a colossal arts, crafts and music event for all ages with free art activities for children 3-12 years. Also musician Jay Mankita, who, according to Pete Seeger, is “one of the half dozen best songwriters today” will perform children’s music, as will Carrie Ferguson. In addition, Crafty Rumpus hosts a 25+ booth craft fair featuring juried artisans from across the region offering lovely wares, and will be serving up savory and sweet foods. All events free and all are welcome! Admissions information will also be available. For directions: www.centerschool.net and check out the Rumpus website: craftyrumpus.com Crafty Rumpus 2011 Sat. Dec 3rd, 10-4

HANDMADE HOLIDAY FAIR: Start your holiday shopping at Alchemy Initiative’s Handmade Holiday Festival- a juried exhibit of 40 artisans. From pottery and jewelry to chocolates and quilts- this is your one-stop spot to check everyone off your holiday list! Preview Party: Fri., Dec. 2nd, 4-7pm, $20. Gen admission: Fri., 7-9pm and Sat., Dec. 3rd 10-6pm, $4 adults/kids under 5 free. Drop and Shop: Parents, drop your child off at Bisque, Beads, & Beyond for a two-hour art project while you shop. Hands-on for your child, hands-free for you! Special hours on Saturday only. Call BBB to reserve your child’s spot: 413-442-9033. For more info, visit www.AlchemyInitiative.org or call 413-236-9600. 40 Melville St., Pittsfield, MA (next to the CYC and Boys and Girls Club).

SPONSORSHIP & ADVERTISING: Reach thousands of families in Western MA while supporting the work of Hilltown Families. See your event, camp, workshop, business featured here in the bulletin board section of our list of Weekly Suggested Events and eNewsletter! Find out more about our Enhanced Publicity options and how we can help with your marketing.

Lee MacKinnon, Director of Family Education and Support at the Hilltown Community Health Centers writes, “A staff representative from the Hilltown Community Health Center’s Families  Together program will be at the Cummington Family Center, 33 Main St. in  Cummington, on Wednesday, December 7 from 10-11am. Hilltown residents  wishing to give comments, suggestions, or ideas for improvement to the program  are invited to drop by and complete a survey. Anyone wishing to give input but unable to make the session may obtain a survey at the Worthington Health Center  or call the health center at 413-238-5511 x155 to find out how to complete a survey.  Families Together is funded by the Massachusetts Community Development Block  Grant Program. To remain eligible for these funds, the program must annually  gather this information.”

Enter to win a yearlong family membership to The Trustees for 2012 plus two adult stickers for cross-country skiing at Notchview in Windsor for the 2011-12 season. Deadline: 12/24.

Emma Stamas of the West County Resilience Committee writes,Creating a More Resilient Holiday Season… Have you ever wanted to have a less stressful and more meaningful holiday season? Join in a discussion about how to save time and money and become more sustainable with members of West County Resiliency at our Tues. December 6 meeting at 7 to 8:30pm at the Shelburne Senior Center. Come and learn new gift giving ideas and less wasteful ways to make decorations, gifts, wrappings,holiday meals, and ways to minimize stress and depression. For more information about this free event or what our group is all about, call 413-624-3240.”

Kristen Rhodes of Leeds, MA writes, “Looking to start a playgroup for my 4yo son. If your child is 3-6 & you are looking for a homeschooling playgroup, contact me!  I’m hoping to get together up to 5 mornings a week (9:30-11). My son has a severe peanut allergy so the group would need to be peanut free. I am willing to host, provide activities, & snacks (just let me know of food allergies/special diets) or we could meet at a peanut free facility if the group prefers…  Pretty much I’m looking for an alternative for preschool as he is in much need of play with other children & cannot attend most playgroups due to his severe allergy, I have a background in early childhood & wouldn’t mind facilitating. Anyone is interested in brainstorming some type of playgroup, let me know!”


LIST OF WEEKLY SUGGESTED EVENTS:
Dec 3rd-9th, 2011

SaturdaySunday
MondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFriday

Read the rest of this entry »

Berkshire Family Fun: Holiday Traditions in the Berkshires

Let the Holidays Begin

Traditions abound in our family beginning with the annual Thanksgiving dinner featuring 25-plus family and friends, mint chip pie, a rousing game of left-right-center and a roundtable discussion of what everyone is thankful for. Soon the holiday books for everyday of December will be wrapped (our own take on the Christmas advent calendar), trees will be chosen, chopped and decorated, and my children’s annual Christmas Eve gift — new pajamas — will be purchased.

Berkshire County is flush with holiday celebrations, many of which have made their way into our family’s list of annual Christmas traditions, and though there are too many to mention them all in this column, here are a few of our favorites.

A TRADITION EVERYWHERE

The Nutcracker, performed by the Albany Berkshire Ballet, will be on stage Dec. 10th & 11th in Pittsfield. (Image courtesy The Colonial Theatre)

The Nutcracker” is a well-known Christmas tradition wherever you live, and for those living in the Berkshires this tradition is kept going each year as a result of the hard work and dedication of the Albany Berkshire Ballet.

The Albany Berkshire Ballet has been bringing its acclaimed production of “The Nutcracker” to audiences throughout the Northeast for over 35 years. Each year, over 600 children are chosen to perform alongside the professional dancers of the ABB in six venues — dancing for over 9,000 audience members. This year’s performances in the Berkshires will take place on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 10 and 11, at The Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield. — For showtimes and information log onto www.berkshireballet.org or www.thecolonialtheatre.org.

TRADITIONS IN LENOX

The Santaland Diaries runs Dec. 2nd-3oth in Lenox, MA. (Image courtesy Shakespeare & Company)

Another Berkshire County holiday tradition began last year by way of the legendary Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, and I was lucky enough to partake in it with my husband and friends.

Directed by S&Co. Artistic Director Tony Simotes and starring Peter Davenport, the company presented David Sedaris’ hilarious one-man production, “The Santaland Diaries,” an occasionally subversive, alarmingly clever, engagingly poignant and always side-splittingly funny true account of Sedaris’ time spent working as a Christmas elf at Macy’s Department Store. By the end of the evening my companions and I were rolling in our seats due to the absolute hilarity of seeing this good-looking man deliver a nearly two-hour monologue onstage in his elf costume. We all vowed to return to theater next year during the holidays in hopes of partaking, once again, in our newfound holiday tradition.

This year the show returns this weekend with Simotes once again in the director’s chair and veteran S&Co. funny man Ryan Winkles tackling the role of Crumpet the Elf. The show opens Friday, Dec. 2, and runs through Dec. 30. — For more information log onto S&Co.’s website at www.shakespeare.org.

CHRISTMAS AT THE COLONIAL

From the Midwest to the Berkshires, local singer-songwriter, Mary Verdi has been bringing people together through her music for years, and for the second year in a row she will bring families together to ring in the holidays at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield with a concert titled “Christmas at the Colonial with Mary Verdi.”

The concert is set for 7 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 3, and will feature Verdi and her band, the St. Raphael’s and St. Patrick’s bell ringers from Williamstown, a children’s chorus, the Rock On guitar orchestra, Dalton Ballet Studio dancers, Tony Lee Thomas and, of course, Santa Claus. Audience members will get the opportunity to hear Verdi’s new original song, “Christmas Time,” performed, as the evening will also serve as a celebration of the official release of her new Christmas album “Christmas in the Berkshires.” Later in the concert a children’s cast of elves will take the stage to lead audience members in a heart-warming sing-a-long.

I’m so excited to tell you about this concert as I had the privilege of hanging out with Mary on many occasions, and for the last year I have been getting updates as to the status of this album. I can personally guarantee that this holiday event is sure to fill even the biggest of Scrooges with holiday cheer, and perhaps it could be the beginning of a new holiday tradition for you and your family.

Tickets may be purchased in person at the Colonial ticket office at 111 South St., by calling 413-997-4444 or online at www.thecolonialtheatre.org.

MORE HOLIDAY CHEER AT THE COLONIAL

After nearly 70 years of sitting dormant in the center of Pittsfield, The Colonial Theatre underwent a major renovation and reopened its doors to the public as a theater in 2006. Since its reopening the local theater has been known for presenting stellar family and educational programming at all times of the year. Last year for my twin’s 12th birthday we all took a family “mental health” afternoon to catch Black Violin, two violinists who combine classical music and hip-hop to present a show that is truly out of this world, at the venue. (If they ever return to the area I highly recommend you catch them in action.)

Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical returns to Western MA on Dec. 4th in Pittsfield. (Image courtesy The Colonial Theatre)

On the agenda for this weekend? The Colonial is presenting a tale of firsts — a stuffed animal’s first trip in the laundry, a little girl’s first words and a Daddy’s first time dealing with his child going “boneless” — in its upcoming musical “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Musical” coming to the Pittsfield theater on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. This musical, based on Mo Willems’ Caldecott Honor-winning picture book, and combines the talents of six-time Emmy Award winner Willems and Grammy Award-winning composer Michael Silversher to lovingly celebrate the heart and heartache that comes from Daddy, Trixie and Trixie’s beloved Knuffle Bunny’s visit to their local laundromat. Tickets can be purchased online at www.thecolonialtheatre.org or by calling 413-997-4444.

Another holiday tradition in the Berkshires is the annual holiday performance of Berkshire Theatre Festival’s rendition of the Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol,” and since the merger of the company with The Colonial last year to form the Berkshire Theatre Group, the performance has been moved to the Pittsfield venue. This year, patrons who attend one of the 11 scheduled performances will get an extra special treat, as the performance not only feature local residents of all ages, but also local legend James Taylor. (“I see fire and I see rain …”)

Performances are set for Dec. 17-18, 20-23, and 26-30. For more information on performance times and tickets visit The Colonial’s website.

Read the rest of this entry »

Christmas by Candlelight: Non-Commercial Way to Celebrate and Discover the Holidays

History and the Holidays Come Alive at Old Sturbridge Village

Father Christmas at OSV. (Courtesy photo)

Is your family craving a simultaneously delightful and non-commercial holiday adventure? Old Sturbridge Village has just the thing- Christmas by Candlelight! The event will take place during three weekends in December (Fri-Sun from 4-9pm), and the activities and learning opportunities featured emphasize history, tradition, and the spirit of the holidays.

Activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, listening to Victorian carolers, hands-on art activities (Christmas ornaments and other keepsakes), visits from Father Christmas and Santa, and live music, puppet shows, readings, and more!

OSV also hosts a yearly gingerbread house contest, and visitors can view the entries and vote for their favorite entry. Christmas by Candlelight is a fantastic way for families to learn and celebrate together- start a new holiday tradition!

For more information visit www.osv.org. To find out which local library has free OSV museum passes for borrowing, check our Educational Support & Local Resources page.

How to Choose Non-Commercial Toys that Promote Creative Free Play this Holiday Season

TRUCE Action Guides: Toys, Media & Children

TRUCE is a national group of educators deeply concerned about the impact of children’s entertainment and toys on their play and behavior. Their goal is to raise public awareness about the negative effects of violent, sexualized, and stereotyped toys and media on children, families, schools, and society.

It’s Black Friday and many parents have holiday gift buying on their minds.  The discussion of holiday buying looms large in our community, with folks chatting about buying local, buying handmade, and buying non-commercial.

Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE), a Massachusetts based group of educators concerned about how children’s toys and entertainment are affecting the play and behavior of kids, has a few guides available on media and play that will help aid parents in making informed decisions and choices when it comes to toys that promote creative free play:

Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide

This guide will help parents and educators promote children’s creative and constructive play, and make informed choices about toys, and work with others at home, school, and in the community to support positive play.

In this guide TRUCE highlights that toys have high play value when they…

  • Can be used in many ways.
  • Allow children to be in charge of the play.
  • Appeal to children at more than one age or level of development.
  • Are not linked to video games, computers, TV, or movies.
  • Can be used with other toys for new and more complex play.
  • Will stand the test of time and continue to be part of play as children develop new interests and
    skills.
  • Promote respectful, non-stereotyped, non-violent interactions among children.
  • Help children develop skills important for further learning and a sense of mastery.
  • Can be used by children to play alone as well as with others. Can be enjoyed by both girls and boys.

TRUCE invites parents to copy and distribute their guides to help spread the word in your community.  Download this guide here:

TRUCE: Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide (pdf)
TRUCE: Toys, Play & Young Children Action Guide (Spanish pdf)

Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media Action Guide

Want to provide your little one with experiences that will enhance healthy play and development? This guide will help you understand why quality play is vital for your child’s growth and what you can do to support it.

In this guide TRUCE warns parents to  “Beware of BRANDING! Children’s media characters are often used by marketers on toys, clothing, and foods to capture young children’s attention. Why is this a problem? Whenever kids see it, they want it because it’s familiar. These kinds of licensing agreements, which support branding efforts, can lead to unwise buying choices, unhealthy eating habits and nagging.”

Download this guide here:

TRUCE: Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media Action Guide (Spanish pdf)
TRUCE: Infant & Toddler Play, Toys & Media Action Guide (pdf)

To learn more about TRUCE, visit www.truceteachers.org.


RELATED POSTS:

In Search of Holiday Season Events with Meaning (Featured in Daily Hampshire Gazette)

In search of holiday season events with meaning
By Barbara Solow, Daily Hampshire Gazette

From card swaps to community singalongs to charity hikes, the season offers a host of options for families. For simplicity's sake, Wildfield organizes her favorites into five categories: Hands-On Opportunities, Outdoor Adventures, Shopping Local, Educational Events and Community Gatherings. (Article by Barbara Solow, Staff Writer for the Hampshire Daily Gazette. Photo credits: Sienna Wildfield)

CHESTERFIELD, MA (Nov 23, 2011) – As the holidays approach, Sienna Wildfield faces a dilemma she believes is common to many parents at this time of year. Wildfield, the mother of a 9-year-old and founder of the Hilltown Families online network, aims to steer clear of the commercialism that envelopes the season like too much gaudy wrapping paper.

“At the same time, Christmastime can be a magical time for kids,” she says. In search of a resolution, Wildfield has spent hours looking for holiday celebrations that capture the magic without focusing too much on what she calls, “the shiny stuff.”

The results of her explorations can be found on the Hilltown Families web site (www.hilltownfamilies.org) in calendar listings, blog posts and more recently, special events hosted by the network.

Earlier this month, Hilltown Families presented a talk on “The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World” by child therapist and author Susan Linn at the Meekins Library in Williamsburg. It’s one of a series of “Community Conversations” on child rearing, voluntarism and other grassroots themes.

When she launched Hilltown Families in 2005, Wildfield says she “really had to dig” for holiday activities that weren’t tied to consumerism. As the network has grown, she’s discovered an increasing number of creative ways for families to celebrate the deeper reasons for the season.

“One of the main things I do is listen to other parents, and the community is definitely talking about this more,” says Wildfield, who has lived in West Chesterfield for a decade.

From card swaps to community singalongs to charity hikes, the season offers a host of options for families. For simplicity’s sake, Wildfield organizes her favorites into five categories: Hands-On Opportunities, Outdoor Adventures, Shopping Local, Educational Events and Community Gatherings.

Below are some examples of events and activities in each one. For more ideas, visit Hilltown Families online.

HANDS-ON OPPORTUNITIES:

Be on the lookout for make-your-own crafts events that are part of many holiday fairs. “These are a great way to make your own gifts,” Wildfield says. For example, on Dec. 3 at 10:30 a.m., the Carnegie Library on Avenue A in Turner’s Falls is offering a free workshop on how to make simple gingerbread houses. Call 413-863-3214.

On Dec. 4 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Friends of the Montague Grange are sponsoring a “Make-and-Take Craft Fair” that will include candle and wreath-making using recycled materials. Admission to the fair at the Grange on Main Street in Montague Center is $1 for gifts that cost between $3 and $10 to make. Proceeds will benefit efforts to preserve the Grange Hall. Contact Cindy Tarail, 413-367-0042.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURES:

Wildfield’s family has been attending the Gorge Apres Gorge Family Fun Walk in West Chesterfield since it was started by a group of local moms eight years ago. This year’s walk will be held at 11 a.m. on Sunday (Nov. 27) at the Chesterfield Gorge. At 9 a.m., a 5K Trail Race will be held to benefit the Trustees of Reservation and the Zephyr Rapinchuk Memorial Fund. The entry fee is $15 on active.com or $20 on the day of the race. Prizes include hand-knitted hats. Details are available on www.georgeapresgores.com or on the event’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gorge-apr%C3%A9s-Gorge/175499033294.

For an outdoor holiday activity that’s truly off the beaten path, Wildfield suggests the Audubon Society’s 112th Christmas Bird Count. The nationwide count begins on Dec. 14 and lasts through Jan. 5. The society uses information collected by volunteer “citizen scientists” to gauge the health of the nation’s bird populations. To find out when this year’s local counting day has been scheduled, visit http://birds.audubon.org/get-involved-christmas-bird-count.

SHOPPING LOCAL:

Wildfield recommends events that highlight community traditions along with shopping. Her pick in this category is Moonlight Magic sponsored by the Shelburne Falls Area Business Association. This year’s event starts at 4:30 p.m. on Friday (Nov. 25) . In addition to stores and galleries staying open late, the evening will feature holiday lights, caroling, crafts demonstrations and live performances throughout the village, Call 413-625-2526.

EDUCATIONAL EVENTS

Regional museums offer a wealth of seasonal programs and Wildfield notes that many area libraries lend free museum passes to card holders. Upcoming events on her list include Historic Deerfield’s “Seasonal Thanks” program on Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Reenactors at the Tavern Hall building will offer a glimpse of life in the 17th century, including open-hearth cooking, examples of period arts and trades and a gift-making session. Call 413-774-5581.

On Dec. 10 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the Wistariahurst Museum on Cabot Street in Holyoke will host a program on how to make Victorian era ornaments and other holiday gifts. Admission is $5 and reservations are suggested, Call 413-322-5660.

COMMUNITY GATHERINGS:

Perhaps the best way to enjoy the holidays is to mark the season with friends and neighbors. Community events include the annual luminary nights in Hatfield and Florence. Wildfield is partial to the Ashfield Solstice celebration, which this year takes place on Dec. 22 starting around 6:30 p.m. on the Town Common. Residents gather around a bonfire to sing and welcome the gradual return of daylight.

There’s also storytelling, Morris folk dancing and the writing of “community intentions” for the New Year. Such events make the holidays “more about a time of year” than about presents under the tree, Wildfield says. “This is the kind of raw around the edges stuff I love to let people know about.”


Copyright GazetteNet.com. Reprinted with permission.

Berkshire Family Fun: A Prelude to the Holiday Season

Don’t Leave Us Yet Fall: Snow gives locals a jump on the winter season in the Berkshires but there is still time to squeeze out some last drops of fall!

Snow came early to the Berkshires this year and while many spent their days and nights being lulled to sleep by the terminal humming (or screeching) of their generators, my children took the opportunity to break out the snowmobiles and start the winter season early. But now with the majority of snow melted and a bit of warm weather headed our way, I’ll save a rundown of the snowmobile and skiing opportunities in the region for another column.

THAT CURIOUS LITTLE MONKEY COMES TO THE BERKSHIRES

This column is on the short side this week because I just returned from a recent trip to northeastern Massachusetts to help care for my sisters two-year-old, Kylee. Needless to say, I’m a little tired, but oh what fun it is to be an aunt. We spent time at the park and library, watched hours of Curious George DVDs, had a couple of carpet picnics and we even mixed it up a little one day and had lunch for breakfast and breakfast for lunch.

Spending that time with Kylee  was so much fun and it gave me time to observe a little bit of all of us in her. That strong stubborn streak? Compliments of myself and my daughter (and possible a cousin or two on Daddy’s side). Her adventurous side? Perhaps my boys (especially Max). Her cooking abilities (man, she can cook a great pancake and hotdog soup in her toy kitchen)? Her daddy. Her ability to spin a good joke (or a least act like anything she or anyone else does is the funniest thing in the world) definitely comes from sister (although her Uncle Mark is pretty good at that, too). And that’s not all she got from mommy … Kylee, apparently, inherited her mother’s obsession with Curious George. While my sister’s 30-plus-year-old tattered George still sits on Kylee’s bookcase, Kylee has myriad versions of the stuffed animal strewn around the house, as well as a full library of George DVDs to watch over and over and over again. Ah, to be two again.

Even if you aren’t as George obsessed as my sister and her two year old, you won’t want to miss the newest exhibit at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge. On Nov. 12 the museum will unveil “Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Magret and H.A. Rey”, as well as “Pop-UP! The Magical World of Movable Books,” to the public with an opening celebration from 1 to 4 p.m.

Featuring nearly 80 original drawings and preparatory dummies for Margret and H. A. Rey children’s books and documentation related to their escape from Nazi-occupied Europe, the “Curious George exhibit” will examine the parallels between the obstacles the Reys faced and the drawings that may have saved their lives.

Later that evening adults can partake in an event beginning at 5:30 and running through 7:30 p.m. that aims to interpret the role that Curious George played in safeguarding his own creators in times of danger as symbolic, Claudia Nahson, curator at the Jewish Museum, delves into the remarkable lives and works of Margret and H. A. Rey, who in 1940, fled Paris with a Curious George manuscript in their suitcase. Art and documentation related to their escape from Nazi-occupied Europe, and the parallels between the obstacles the couple faced and the drawings that may have saved their lives will be explored. Claudia Nahson is the curator of “Curious George Saves the Day: The Art of Margret and H.A. Rey.” A festive reception will follow.

The history and wonder of pop-up books will be brought to life in “The Magical World of Movable Books” exhibit featuring Barbara and Bernard Shapiro’s extensive collection of movable literature for the young and the young at heart. The exhibition will feature diverse genres, from whimsy and fantasy to the worlds of art, history and science. Published books by the Munich-based illustrator Lothar Meggandorfer (1847-1925), multimedia artist Red Grooms, and pop-up masters Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart will be on view with selected original illustrations that have made these amazing published pop-ups possible. Original book illustrations also will be on view. For more information on both exhibits visit http://www.nrm.org.

WIN A FAMILY PASS TO SEE GEORGE

The exhibit is on view through Feb. 5 and you can win a family pass to go see it!!! All you need to do is let us know at the bottom of this column what you and your children are most excited to see at the Norman Rockwell Museum, and why by next Thursday, Nov. 17, and you will be entered in a random drawing to win the passes. Be sure to check back on Friday, Nov. 18, to see if you have won, with directions on how to get your family pass.

TWO MORE EVENTS FOR THIS WEEKEND

The Milne Library in Williamstown is known for its stellar array of children’s programming and this Saturday, Nov. 12, the children’s department will do it again. At 1 p.m. the library will present a program titled “Moxie: The Dachshund of Fallingwater” featuring curator of education at Fallingwater and visiting professor, Cara Armstrong. Fallingwater is the name of a very special house that is built over a waterfall located in southwest Pennsylvania. Frank Lloyd Wright, America’s most famous architect, designed the house for his clients, the Kaufmann family. Fallingwater was built between 1936 and 1939. It instantly became famous, and today it is a National Historic Landmark.

Armstrong will be reading aloud and discussing her children’s book “Moxie: The Dachshund of Fallingwater.” In an earlier interview, Armstrong described her book this way: “”I wanted to make Fallingwater more accessible to kids and architecture more accessible to kids. Moxie embodies the four design themes of Fallingwater — the cantilever, the cascade, the circle (or semicircle), and the horizontal. I think kids of any age will enjoy this book, even grown-up kids.” - The library is located at 1095 Main St. in Williamstown.

Also on Saturday, Nov. 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Rudolf Steiner School in Great Barrington will host its 39th annual Holiday Handcraft Fair, featuring activities for children such as puppet shows, hayrides, candle-dipping, a country store, raffles and more. The school is located on West Plain Road in Great Barrington. For more information call 413-528-4015 or visit www.gbrss.org.

Read the rest of this entry »

Holiday Help Available For Families in Need in the Hilltowns

Turkey dinners, gifts for teens, cords of wood, help with payment of a utility bill are examples of some of the unique offerings that have come out of the community to help out other local residents.

Hilltown Social Services writes:

The Gateway National Honor Society will again be working with Hilltown Social Services to help families with lower incomes by providing holiday gifts for children, newborns up through age twelve, who live in the towns in the Gateway School District. This will be the eighteenth continuous year for this community service project. Local residents, businesses, churches and other organization also donate to this effort.

Wish Lists will be available for families with young children, through age twelve, at Hilltown Social Services, 9 Russell Road located across from the fire station on Route 20 in Huntington through Monday November 21, 2011. Each eligible household and child will be assigned and identified by a number to maintain confidentially. The gifts will be ready for pick up on Thursday, December 15, 2011 from 1 ­-4pm at Hilltown Social Services.

In past years there has been a variety of other generous gift offers that Hilltown Social Services and the Gateway Family Center have directed to appreciative recipients. Turkey dinners, gifts for teens, cords of wood, help with payment of a utility bill are examples of some of the unique offerings that have come out of the community to help out other local residents. Hilltown Social Services, a program of Hilltown Community Health Centers, Inc., coordinates this project. If you or your organization is interested in contributing please call Diane Meehan or Kim Savery at 413-­667­-2203.

[Photo credit (ccl) Frank Tellez]

« Older entries

%d bloggers like this: