December 2010 is chock full of family events, parades, and holiday celebrations but none is quite as exciting for me as the celebration of the one-year anniversary of Sandbox Press! It has been such a fun year and I am so appreciative for all the great feedback I hear in our communities about our little paper that could. I am honored to be writing with such great Sussex County parents and professionals (one in particular, of course), and hope 2011 brings even more opportunities for us to help you connect to your communities and strengthen your families. I encourage you to check the events listings to find out about all the holiday happenings this month.

This month has a unique event we do not often get to see. It has not happened in three years and this month it will. The event will happen during the early morning hours of Tuesday the 21st from about 2-3 a.m. There will not be another one until June 15, 2011 (at which point I am likely to mention it again since I love them): it’s a total eclipse of the moon. I realize for all of you parents out there that these hours on a school night are not easy to justify, however, they probably only have one or two days of school this week and then they have 2 weeks to recover lost sleep. Plus, everyone knows that nobody gets anything done during those last days of school before vacation; the excitement is like electrical current in a classroom and should propel your child through one late-night eclipse-watching party. Just put them to bed early, wake them up for a bit, and then toss them back under the covers. I guarantee you they remember it one day as they reflect, and those kind of together memories are priceless.

As you plan your holiday events calendar this month, make sure to include a few fun things for the kids to do in lieu of standing at your leg for yet another wine and cheese party. The Bethany Beach Nature Center is a wonderful resource for some free family time that is also full of educational food for your brain. For the first three Saturdays this month (and every Saturday morning when there is not a holiday), the nature center offers a youth program from 10:30 a.m. - 12 noon for children of all ages. December the 18th looks particularly cool this month, as the program is titled “Trim a Tree for the Birds.” You will learn tips on how to draw some winter friends to your own backyard this holiday season. The Nature Center is located right on Rt. 26 in Bethany Beach and they have a great nature trail and playground equipment out back to round out your morning.

Technically this next event takes place in 2011, but it happens on the first day of the month and even I don’t have my copy of Sandbox Press on the first every month. On 1/1/11, the Bethany-Fenwick Area Chamber of Commerce is hosting the 15th Annual Leo Brady Exercise Like the Eskimos. This annual fundraising event benefits the Quiet Resorts Charitable Foundation, who in turn supports your local organizations like the fire company, the library, and the CHEER center. All you have to do is register online at the link below, and then get all your friends and family to support you and your family members in your quest to jump into the Atlantic Ocean this winter to start off your new year with a “Yikes! That’s cold”! It’s a wonderfully exhilarating experience to share with your family and certainly one you will never forget.

Lastly, as we round out this year, I would like to make a personal plea for you to try a family activity that will bring you closer in ways you may never expect. Please volunteer together. We are fortunate enough to live in a wonderful area, full of great activities, gorgeous natural scenery, friendly people, and supportive small town communities with places you can say “everybody knows your name.” However, there are many among us who struggle to have the time or the money to really enjoy these things because their everyday lives are too overwhelming, or they are simply unable to get out and do these things alone or without assistance. Whether you choose to donate to a local food bank, ring the bell for the Salvation Army, or simply take your old coats or new toys to a drive at your local police department, do it together with your family. Show your children and their friends that when you give, you get back twice as much. Times are tough these days. I know I remember these times in my own life and fondly recall that special someone who stepped in to help with a kind word or a meal; it made all the difference in my life. I remember these gifts much more than who gave me the Holly Hobbie purse or the Lite-Brite. Make sure you give a gift to your communities this season so that we all have truly happy holidays!

If you know of a great music or arts teacher, group, cultural event, or artistic opportunity in Sussex County that you would like to see highlighted in Local Arts and Culture, please email sk@sandbox-press.net.

For more information on the events and outings mentioned in this article, please visit these websites:

https://store.bethany-fenwick.org/item/15th_Annual_Leo_Brady_Exerci...

http://www.bethany-beach.net/naturecenter

http://www.1-800-volunteer.org/1800Vol/volunteerdelaware

http://www.fbd.org

SaraKate Hammer has been enjoying the Delaware arts and local culture since childhood. She lives with her family in Milford.

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