Kids’ Almanac (December 18-25)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

“I should say winter had given the bone and sinew to literature, summer the tissues and the blood.”
– John Burroughs, naturalist



Children’s Holiday Tea, candlelight tours at Mount Gulian

December weekends are packed with practices, rehearsals, activities, family gatherings, parties and holiday preparations, so wouldn’t it be great if a historic site held a special event on a weekday afternoon or weeknight for a change? Well, Mount Gulian is doing exactly that, and invites you and yours to a weekday candlelight tour of the homestead from 1 to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, December 17 through 19. The cost is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for children ages 3 to 16 years.

If your visit inspires a return to Mount Gulian for the Children’s Holiday Tea on Saturday, December 27 from 12 noon to 2 p.m., be sure to make your reservation early, before it sells out. The cost for the Holiday Tea is $18 for adults and $15 for children. Make it a new family tradition: Bring your favorite children, dress in your holiday finest and enjoy a tea party including finger foods, a brief educational presentation and a craft. And if you are gluten-free, remember to mention it in your reservation, so that you can enjoy your own goodies alongside everyone else!


Mount Gulian is located at 145 Sterling Street in Beacon, right through the parking lot of the neighboring apartment building. For more information or to reserve for the tea party, call (845) 831-8172 or visit



Dinner with Santa at West Shore Station in Newburgh

Two of the perks of an event such as Just Off Broadway’s Dinner with Santa are the opportunity to take as many photos as you like and the chance just to be there instead of navigating the pressures of a shopping environment, where so many Santa events are held. On Friday, December 19 from 6 to 9 p.m. or on Saturday, December 20 from 2 to 5 p.m., join Santa at the Theatre at West Shore Station for a dinner buffet, singalong, puppet show and more, including an Ugly Sweater Contest for the adults.

The cost is $25 per person for anyone over age 1. You’ll have to hustle for this one, since time is running out for reservations. The Theatre at West Shore Station is located at 27 South Water Street in Newburgh. For reservations or more information, call (845) 565-3791 or visit



Bird count needs volunteers

It’s tough to sell birding, since it’s such an inexpensive hobby and anyone can do it pretty much anywhere. There are so many birds; do I have to care about every single one that crosses my path? Plus – as I asked naturalist Mark DeDea, president of the John Burroughs Natural History Society and caretaker at the Forsyth Nature Center in Kingston – aren’t some birds just boring, like seagulls near the local malls? He suggested focusing on what it is that I’m actually seeing, from looking for different varieties of gulls within the same flock to spotting an entirely different bird that could be seeking safety in numbers during a southern migration, like a snow goose mixed in with the Canada geese on the New Paltz flats.

As a novice birder, I struggle with bird identification except for geese and seagulls, but I’m beginning to understand the way that birds help to give us a sense of place and time. Audubon’s Chris Canfield says, “Great fiction is often praised for evoking a strong ‘sense of place.’ Birds do the same. In my own backyard, watching the types and rhythms of birds each day and each season heightens my appreciation for the subtler workings of the landscape.”

Are you interested in doing some bird connecting of your own? Here are two big events that you could help out with, whether it’s a feeder watch from your home or heading out into the field for an all-day excursion. To participate in the Mohonk Lake/Ashokan Reservoir count circle on Saturday, December 20, contact Steve Chorvas at (845) 246-5900 or To join the Ulster/Dutchess count circle on Saturday, December 27, contact Peter Schoenberger at (914) 466-2707 or, or Mark DeDea at (845) 339-1277 or


Christmas at Clermont Open House

The Christmas at Clermont Open House takes place this Saturday, December 20 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public. Bring friends and family! Go for the history: Former resident Robert Livingston helped to draft the Declaration of Independence, he administered the Presidential Oath to George Washington in 1789 and he helped develop the steamboat that changed the way that America traveled and moved goods around. Stay for the beautiful, festive décor, the river views and the excellent, unique selections at the gift shop. Clermont is located at the intersection of Route 9G and Columbia County Route 6. For more information, call (518) 537-6622 or visit


Hanukkah Happening at Kingston’s Temple Emanuel

“We light candles in testament that faith makes miracles possible,” said rabbi Nachum Braverman. For family-friendly fun in celebration of the Festival of Lights, head over to the Hanukkah Happening, which takes place on Saturday, December 20 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at Temple Emanuel. Activities include music, games, crafts, gifts, a book fair – and latkes, of course! Admission costs $5 for adults, $3 for children over 2 years and $20 maximum for a family.

Temple Emanuel is located at 243 Albany Avenue in Kingston. For more information, call (845) 338-4271 or visit


Living Nativity returns to Kingston’s Old Dutch Church

How can you help your family more deeply connect with the meaning behind the Christmas crèche that some of you set up each year, or bring to life the familiar carol “Away in a Manger”? Take the kids to Old Dutch Church for its 65th annual performance of the Christmas story, complete with a Living Nativity consisting of live animals and actors!

The Living Nativity takes place on Saturday and Sunday, December 20 and 21 at 6:30, 7 and 7:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the public for viewing, participating in it or helping out backstage.

The Old Dutch Church is located at 272 Wall Street in Kingston. For more information or to volunteer, call (845) 338-6759 or visit


A Christmas Carol with marionettes in Rhinebeck

In A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge becomes terrified by the scenes that he witnesses from his future and implores, “Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of the things that May be only?” Every time I see a performance of this work, I feel called to observe any gaps between where I’m heading in my life and where I actually want to go.

How about taking a time-out from the holiday busyness to enjoy some of the gifts of A Christmas Carol this Saturday, December 20 at 11 a.m. at the Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck, delightfully performed with marionettes, accompanied by holiday music and followed by a visit from Santa? Tickets cost $7 for children, $9 for adults and seniors.

The Center for Performing Arts at Rhinebeck is located at 661 Route 308 in Rhinebeck. For tickets or more information, call (845) 876-3080 or visit


Woodstock Library hosts children’s poetry reading

In sharing why poetry matters to him, US poet laureate Charles Wright said, “It changed my life. It gave me some valve for the emotional longings that I had as a young man and helped me bring together various independent thoughts that I had.” Perhaps some of the young poets at this weekend’s Woodstock Library Forum can relate.

On Saturday, December 20 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Woodstock Library, you’ll hear from the following youth as part of Chronogram’s Children’s Poetry: A Reading: Piper Levine, Rachel Wapner-Mol, Sage Perkins, Kaya Lanier, Forrest G. B. Tinney, Solana Cantu and more.

The Woodstock Library is located at 5 Library Lane in Woodstock. For more information about this or other events, call (845) 679-4693 or visit