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Merry & bright

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: On Dec. 1, Holy Family University hosted a nativity and tree lighting. The event featured holiday music from Nazareth Academy High School and Grade School and the lighting of the Star of Bethlehem, the nativity and the Christmas tree. MARIA YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO

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Christmas is less than three weeks away, and there’s plenty of ways for folks in the Northeast to get into the holiday spirit.

Hanukkah is also less than three weeks away, beginning at sundown on Dec. 24 and continuing until Dec. 31, and a couple of local synagogues have activities planned.

On Dec. 22, the Congregations of Shaare Shamayim will hold a Holiday Cookie Project. The public is invited to bake cookies at 2 and 7 p.m. at the synagogue, 9768 Verree Road in Bustleton. Volunteers are also needed to deliver the cookies on Dec. 25 to EMTs, nurses and doctors. Call 215–677–1600.

On Dec. 25, Temple Beth Ami will host a Hanukkah party at 10:30 a.m. Children under 13 are admitted free. Everyone else pays $9. There will be games, music and food. The synagogue is at 9201 Bustleton Ave.

As for Christmas, the shopping season is in full swing. Children’s wish lists are being mailed to the North Pole. Homes and trees are being decorated. Cards are being mailed to family and friends. Office parties are being organized. And churches are planning special services.

Here is a look at ways to participate in the joyous season leading up to the visit by Santa and his reindeer and the celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Santa is coming to town

Santa Claus is taking a break from overseeing the elves to make several appearances in the Northeast, beginning tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 7, from 5 to 7:30 at Holmesburg Library, 7810 Frankford Ave. The evening, sponsored by Friends of Holmesburg Library, will include cookies, storytime, pictures and crafts.

Santa will also be in the St. Hubert High School cafeteria on Saturday morning, as the alumnae association sponsors a breakfast from 10 a.m. to noon.

Somehow, Santa will also be at World of Animals, 6503 Frankford Ave., on Saturday. There will be free pet photos from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

After World of Animals, Santa will head to Petco, 9717 Roosevelt Blvd., for pet photos from 1 to 4 p.m. Proceeds benefit Philadelphia’s Animal Care and Control. Santa will be back at Petco on Dec. 17.

Better to give than receive

Donations are needed for a turkey drive for needy families in Burholme. Also, the Hellraisers Bucks County Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club will host a Christmas party at the Michael J. Crescenz Rising Sun VFW Post 2819, 6850 Martins Mill Road in Lawndale, on Dec. 18, from 2 to 4 p.m. Santa Claus will appear, and there will be a toy giveaway. To donate a turkey or other food or for more information on the party, call Roxanna Gambino Schroeder at 215–626–1723.

State Rep. Ed Neilson’s office is a drop-off location for this year’s U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign. New or unopened toys can be dropped off until Dec. 16 at Neilson’s office at 16 Old Ashton Road.

New and unwrapped toys can also be dropped off at any of City Councilman Brian O’Neill’s five offices: 7522 Castor Ave. (215–685–0438); 432 Rhawn St. (215–685–6431); FOP Lodge 5 headquarters at 11630 Caroline Road (215–437–9167); Bustleton Avenue and Bowler Street, above the 7th Police District (215–685–0432); and 562 City Hall (215–686–3422).

Light up the night

Holmesburg Recreation Center, Rhawn and Ditman streets, will hold a Christmas tree lighting on Thursday, Dec. 8, at 6 p.m. Santa Claus will be available for pictures. The evening will also include face-painting, a balloon magician and snacks. The event is sponsored by the Holmesburg Recreation Center Advisory Council, the Major Artery Revitalization Committee and the Community Life Improvement Program.

Sounds of the season

Christmas music can be heard on at least three local commercial radio stations, several SiriusXM channels and TV’s Music Choice.

Locally, there will be a number of chances to hear live music.

On Saturday, Glen Foerd on the Delaware, 5001 Grant Ave., will host Christmas at the Mansion from 1 to 5 p.m. Settlement Music School’s Kardon Branch organizes the event’s concerts, including ballet performances of The Nutcracker and a carol singalong by its children’s choir. Nazareth Academy Grade School’s bell choir and vocal choir will also entertain. There will be holiday crafts and a visit by Santa Claus. Tickets are $5.

On Sunday, the Greater Philadelphia Chorale will perform at 2:30 p.m. at St. Jerome Church, 8100 Colfax St. in Holme Circle.

On Dec. 15, St. Hubert High School, 7320 Torresdale Ave., will host a free Christmas Concert and Alumnae Art Show from 7 to 9 p.m.

On Dec. 18, Somerton United Methodist Church, 13073 Bustleton Ave., will present a concert from 4:30 to 6 p.m. An offering will be taken to support the church’s Liberian Education Project. Desserts and beverages will be served.

Holiday stories at local libraries

Holmesburg Library, 7810 Frankford Ave., will host Storytime with Mr. Paul on Friday, at 10 a.m. Children’s librarian Mr. Paul will read Pete the Cat Saves Christmas by Eric Litwin and The Little Drummer Boy by Ezra Jack Keats.

On Dec. 19, the Katharine Drexel Branch, 11099 Knights Road, will host Holiday Story Time with Mr. Malcolm at 6 p.m. There will be crafts and refreshments. ••

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