As December draws to a close and the New Year begins, the time comes bid farewell to your Christmas tree. It's a sad but inevitable fact of life that your tree has to go at some point, unless of course you have an artificial Christmas tree, in which case you can probably stop reading right here.
Fortunately, your local disposal agency is usually more than happy to take your dried out old Noble Fir off your hands and do the green thing with the tree by recycling it. If for some reason you can't leave your tree out by the curb with your yard waste, you can drop it off at a number of different locations, including most fire houses, throughout Marin County.
Keep in mind that you need to remove all ornaments, lights, tinsel, and plastic tree bags from the tree before you put it out for pick up. (Don't forget to remove metal or plastic stands, too.)
Here's a rundown of Christmas tree disposal details for communities in Marin:
For Larkspur, Greenbrae, Kentfield, Las Gallinas Valley, Ross, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Fairfax, and Ross Valley (Sleepy Hollow and Oak Manor): Trees will be collected at the curb on your regular yard waste pickup day during the month of January. If trees are greater than 6 feet in length, please cut them in half. Remove all metal stands, plastic tree bags, and ornaments. Flocked trees will not be accepted.
Marin Sanitary customers may drop off up to two Christmas trees during the month of January at the Marin Resource Recovery Center at 565 Jacoby Street in San Rafael. Drop-off is free, but a fee will be charged for flocked trees.
Mill Valley Refuse
For Almonte, Alto, Belvedere, Corte Madera, Mill Valley, Homestead, Strawberry, and Tiburon: Place trees along curb on any regular green can collection day, starting the week after New Year’s. Trees must be cut in five-foot lengths. Flocked trees are OK. Trees put out by garbage cans will not be picked up.
Clement Moore's poem The Night Before Christmas has been a holiday staple since its debut in 1823, and there are countless picture books depicting this timeless classic. So what makes this latest version (26 pages, Peter Yarrow Books, 2010) so special and different from all the other versions out there? It's a combination of things really. First, the enchanting paintings of illustrator Eric Puybaret capture the magic of the tale and offer a colorful, fresh take on the poem. More importantly, though, this version of The Night Before Christmas includes a CD that features performances by the iconic folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary.
Featured on the disc are three tracks: a version of the poem set to music by Noel Paul Stookey (the "Paul" of Peter, Paul and Mary), a charming reading of The Night Before Christmas by Mary Travers with musical accompaniment by Peter and Paul, and bonus rendition of A 'Soalin, a classic Peter, Paul and Mary holiday favorite.
What makes the performances especially poignant is that they are the last from Mary Travers, who passed away from leukemia in 2009.
Every Christmas, the men and women of NORAD take a break from tracking the skies and waterways of North America and instead follow Santa Claus on his annual Christmas trek around the globe. You can check out Saint Nick's progress live online at NORAD's special Santa Tracking website, www.noradsanta.org. You can also track Santa on a mobile app available for iOS,Android, or Windows devices.
NORAD's tradition of tracking Santa's route started in 1955, when a local Sears store in Colorado Springs printed the wrong phone number in a Christmastime advertisement for children to call Santa. The phone number was in fact that of the CONAD (the predececessor of NORAD, which took over the tradition in 1958) operations hotline, and the staff under Colonel Harry Shoup responded with good humor and gave the children who called in updates on Santa's position.
Maria wants to act grown up and help her mother knead the masa for the traditional tamales for her Mexican-American family's Christmas feast. Poet and author Gary Soto's Too Many Tamales! (32 pages, Putnam Juvenile, 1996) tells the story of a Christmas Maria won't soon forget with charm and warmth, helped by the vivid illustrations of Ed Martinez.
Maria will feel really grown up if she wears her mother's sparkling diamond ring. Needless to say, mom's ring is at the center of why the book is titled Too Many Tamales!. We won't give anything away, but everything ends just fine as Aunt Rosa declares to a relieved Maria that the second batch of tamales always tastes better than the first!
Too Many Tamales is a fitting addition to your holiday read-aloud repertoire. It's got suspense, a happy ending, and joyful celebration of family and a delicious Mexican holiday tradition. Our kids love the story, and they're bugging us to make tamales this Christmas. I just hope my daughter doesn't try to wear my ring while she's mixing the masa…
Gingerbread is one of my favorite holiday treats, and nothing makes the house smell like Christmas more than a batch of gingerbread cookies baking in the oven. If you're like me and simply can't get enough gingerbread during the holidays (or any time of year, for that matter) try making these gingerbread waffles for breakfast or a holiday brunch. They're subtly sweet and spicy and can even be used for dessert (try topping them with some good quality vanilla ice cream).
Don't worry if you don't have all the spices that this recipe calls for in your pantry. Ginger and cinnamon are the mandatory ones, and feel free to add something else, like a little cardamom or allspice, to make things more interesting. Try serving these waffles with fresh fruit and whipped cream, but they're also good with butter and maple syrup.
Sound familiar? It's common dialogue in our house around this time of year, and it's a big part of the hilarious It's Christmas, David!(32 pages, The Blue Sky Press, 2010).
It's Christmas, David! is part of author and illustrator David Shannon's series of David books, which feature poor little David and the litany of mischievous things he's told not to do (based on the author's real-life childhood experience, no less). With all the admonitions directed toward David in It's Christmas, David!, it might seem like he's an awful kid; but he's not—he's just doing what most children do and feeling the way most children feel around the holidays. OK… maybe David's behavior is a little worse than most kids'—but then that's what makes the book so funny!
While listening to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Olive the dog hears the mondegreen "Olive, the other reindeer" (instead of "All of the other reindeer"), and decides that she, in fact is the reindeer in question. So begins the contemporary Christmas classic Olive, the Other Reindeer(40 pages, Chronicle Books, 1997) by local author and illustrator team Vivian Walsh and J. Otto Seibold.
Olive undertakes an arduous journey—involving no fewer than two buses—to the North Pole and assists Santa Claus using the talents that come naturally to a Jack Russell Terrier. Olive, the Other Reindeer pairs Walsh's charming, funny, and inspiring story with Seibold's cool retro style illustrations, in a book that both children and adults will love. For what it's worth, the book is far different, much simpler, and in our opinion better than the animated Christmas special that's based on it.
During the holidays, we're indundated with Christmas-themed movies and TV specials of all different kinds. Being something of a family of movie buffs, we decided to put together our list of favorite holiday movies. Here's what we think is worth repeat watching each December.
Based on the picture book of the same name by Raymond Briggs, The Snowman is short 27-minute animated film that tells the story of a young boy who builds a snowman on Christmas Eve, only to find that it comes to life later on that night and takes him on a magical journey to the North Pole.
There’s no dialogue to speak of, except for some introductory narration by David Bowie (yes, David Bowie). The Snowman, with its musical interlude featuring the haunting song Walking in the Air, beautiful animation, and messages of friendship and loss, is a true classic. Your kids will love it, and I challenge any parent not to get choked up by the end.
(The San Francisco Symphony accompanies a screening The Snowman this Saturday, December 22, at Davies Symphony Hall. Learn more about it here.)
The 1982 animated film The Snowman is one of our favorite holiday classics, and it's even more magical when accompanied by a live orchestra and choir. It's a great way to introduce kids to the symphony, too. We're giving away four tickets to the San Francisco Symphony's performance of The Snowman this Saturday, December 22! This special performance also includes holiday favorites and sing-alongs that the whole family will love.
The Snowman is a 26-minute animated film that tells the tale of a young boy's magical friendship with a snowman who comes to life on Christmas Eve. For this performance, the film will be accompanied by the San Francisco Symphony, conducted by Donata Cabrera, and Pacific Boychoir.
To enter to win, send an email to email@example.com with "SNOWMAN" in the subject line by 11:59 pm on Tuesday, December 18, 2012. We'll choose a random winner on Wednesday. Read our complete contest and giveaway rules here.