the holiday hustle bustle is over

Now what?

Now what?

January 02, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN


You made it. The holidays - last minute shopping and greeting cards, decorating, baking, going over the river and through the woods, and ringing in the New Year - are over.

So what are you going to do this weekend?

Think outside the just past holiday hustle-bustle.

This looks like a weekend when you don't have a million things you have to do.

Do something you've been wanting to do - with friends, with family or by yourself.

Go skiing. Go snow tubing. Go bowling. Go ice skating. Go roller skating.

Make that long-intended visit to an art museum, the quiet and beauty of the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, for example.


Visit your local public library. "It's a good place to come that's free, and there are thousands of books available," says Scott Valentine, director of Alexander Hamilton Memorial Free Library in Waynesboro, Pa.

Browse. Find a book you liked when you were a kid. Read it out loud. Listening can further language development at any age, Valentine says.

Beyond such utilitarian pursuits, reading together provides good being-together-snuggling time for the family.

Catch up

Lisa Heller, who homeschools her children, Jon, 14, and Rebecca, 10, has some practical pursuits planned for her family. The Hellers will be cleaning together.

"There's too much clutter," Lisa Heller says. The kids will be clearing their rooms of things they no longer use and making piles for the rescue mission and dump.

But you know what they say about "all work." Lisa Heller and her kids love to ski and the family also plays a lot of board games.

The Litton family of Fairplay also plays games together, says Donna Litton, who so far homeschools five of her seven children, who range in age from 13 years to 6 months old. Favorites include chess and checkers. Although these are games for two players, the family can be involved, Litton laughs.

"Everybody else watches and gives advice," she says.

It's not all play in the Litton household; the children are very involved in chores. Although spring and summer are busier when the 70 acres the family farms need weeding and vegetable and berry picking, there is plenty to keep the Littons occupied. The children bring in wood to keep the fire stoked and house warm, and it's a .3-mile hike to the mailbox.

And speaking of hikes ... why not take one?

Even if you venture out for only a few minutes, the smell of the fresh, cold air will come back inside with you when you return. No manufactured air freshener in a can or candle can come close to the fragrance of nature in winter.

Walk around your neighborhood. Visit a Washington County park. Although the parks closed at the end of October, they are open to walk-in traffic year-round.

There is plenty of natural beauty. Take a look at the falls and the Antietam Creek at Devil's Backbone in South County. Park open space provides opportunities for trying your hand - or legs - at cross-country skiing, says Jim Sterling, director of buildings, grounds and parks.

The winter-lonely playground equipment would probably appreciate a swing or a slide from a child or two, and picnic tables will welcome a chilled lunch.

Want to try a real hike? There are several points of entry to the legendary Appalachian Trail virtually in your back yard. Start at Gathland or Washington Monument State parks in Boonsboro. Check out the trail near Pen Mar Park in the northeastern part of Washington County.

The C&O Canal is a "two-for-one" hike, says Laurie Potteiger, information services coordinator for the Appalachian Trail Conference in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. Walking the towpath along the Potomac River puts you in a National Park as well as on the Appalachian Trail.

Dress for the outdoors - a windbreaker, sturdy shoes and layers you can remove as you warm up, Potteiger recommends. Carry a flashlight, water and a snack.

Enjoy your time outside.

Enjoy your time inside.

Enjoy the non-holiday season.

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