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Amy Umble writes about family issues and kid-friendly events.

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What are the area’s best holiday traditions?

The annual Holiday Gift Guide is in today’s Free Lance-Star. Parents can find plenty of holiday help in here, from tips on stuffing a stocking to advice on how to keep all toys Santa brings from cluttering your house. Pick up today’s paper to get the guide, and in the meantime, here’s a story on some of the great family holiday traditions our area offers. Please share your own favorite local traditions in the comments.

Every family wants to find a way to make the holiday season “their own,” and to mark it with something that gets them out of the rat race of crowded stores and chasing after the latest hot toy.

The key for many is to find a simple experience that can be repeated each year to mark the season.

The Fredericksburg area offers many good candidates. Here are a few area attractions that could become your family’s favorite holiday traditions:

Find the perfect Christmas tree – If you’re tired of selecting wrapped-up trees from a roadside stand, devote a day to taking a drive in the country to find your own.

Several area farms offer this service in a setting that can accommodate even the tree-picking novice.

One is Slater’s Christmas Tree Farm in King George County. Owner James Slater grows five acres of Christmas trees, including Virginia pine, white pine and Norway spruce.

He’s open from Thanksgiving Day through Christmas Eve to tree-seeking families, many of whom have been coming for years.

“I love to see the looks on little peoples’ faces as soon as they get out of the hay wagon,” he said.

Slater offers free hayrides out to the trees, and he will loan you a saw, let you bring your own, or cut the tree for you.

Slater is located at 15200 Peach Tree Lane, accessed from Belle Isle Road off Route 218 in King George. The number at the farm is 540/ 663-0215.

Enjoy the twinkling lights – Sometimes seeing a holiday light show is as easy as gazing at your neighbor’s Christmas lights.

But if you’re looking for something more organized, head to Spotsylvania Towne Centre.

The mall will be offering a free “Concert in Lights” from Nov. 6 through Dec. 31. The shows take place in the outdoor Village area. Synchronized light displays are set to classic holiday tunes.

Shows are at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 and 9:30 p.m. On Christmas Eve, there will be a 5 p.m. show.

Make it a musical holiday – The University of Mary Washington Philharmonic is performing two Holiday POPS concerts Dec. 8 and 9.

The concerts are entitled “A Down-Home Christmas,” and they feature Jay Ungar and Molly Mason from the Grammy Award-winning album “Civil War” by Ken Burns.

The concerts take place at George Washington Hall, in the Dodd Auditorium on the UMW campus, at 7:30 p.m. on both days.

General admission is $10, and children under 8 are free. There is an “Instrument Petting Zoo” for the younger set from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. before the Dec. 8 concert.

For more information, visit philharmonic.umw.edu.

 

 

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