Seattle’s Child “The Giving Issue” November/December 2023

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Festivals, lights, oh my! Sustainable feasting NOVEMBER/ DECEMBER 2023




Volunteer as a family FREE








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>>Contents Seattle’sChild

November/December 2023 // Issue 502

WHAT PARENTS ARE TALKING ABOUT....... 5 DAD NEXT DOOR................ 7 ROMP........................................... 9 CHOMP......................................19 CARE..........................................21 FEATURE: ON HOLIDAY GIVING.......27 DIWALI......................................28 CHANUKAH...........................29 WINTER SOLSTICE........... 30 NOCHE BUENA....................31 CHRISTMAS...........................32 KWANZAA..............................32 HOLIDAY MOVIES............. 36

ANN BERGMAN Publisher, Founder JASMIN THANKACHEN Associate Publisher KATHRYN HOLLOWAY Art Director CHERYL MURFIN Managing Editor JOSHUA HUSTON Photographer ROSE WILLIAMSON Proofreader JEFF LEE, MD Columnist MEGHAN BEDELL REBECCA MONGRAIN DR. SUSANNA BLOCK CHERYL MURFIN CHARLENE DY JASMIN THANKACHEN CANDACE MCMILLAN MARY YGLESIA Contributors ADVERTISING JULANN HILL Senior Account Manager 206-724-2453 ERICA GILSON Account Executive AMBER ELBON Ad Production Manager Seattle’s Child has provided useful information to parents since 1979. In addition to our magazine, look for our special themed publications — Family Resource Guide, School and SummerTime — distributed free throughout the Puget Sound area. Seattle’s Child is published every other month.

„ Find us online at Cover photo by JOSHUA HUSTON Nove mbe r/ D e c e mbe r 2 0 2 3

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WINTER BONSAI SOLSTICE SAT DEC 16 | 4 – 7pm 2515 S 336th St Federal Way free!

It’s so much more than a gift! Washington State Heirloom Birth Certificate A portion of the proceeds from each birth certificate benefits the Children’s Trust Fund of Washington, administered by the Washington State Department of Children, Youth & Families Strengthening Families Program.


Enjoy a day at the

• This official birth certificate is personally signed by the Governor and State Registrar. • Certificate is 8 1/2 x 11 and includes the name, date and place of birth, as well as the name and birthplace of the parent(s). • Frameable keepsake. • For each $45 purchase of an Heirloom Birth Certificate, $20 is tax deductible. To find out more information on Children’s Trust and child abuse prevention in Washington State visit: or visit the Department of Health to order your own Heirloom Birth Certificate. DCYF FS_0010 (09-19)



Get up to 2 hours free parking in Pike Garage with purchase on waterfront Nove m b er/ Decem b er 2 0 23

Don’t miss these stories on




Game night! 24 family games we love

Go troll hunting! Find these 5 giant trolls in the Seattle area

The Definitive Guide to Inside Activities with Kids

»What Parents

„ Find more local stories for families on

Are Talking About Education, health, development and more

(Clockwise from top left) Susan Talley, Tonie Talbert, Sadie Yoshida, and Aleeyah Andresen stretching during Move-a-thon at Dunlap Elementary.

Building a brighter future M OV E -A-T HO N : COU RTE SY OF S OU TH E AST S E ATTL E S CH OOL S FU N D RA I S I N G A L L I A N CE

Redefining PTSA school fundraising for equity and inclusion by M E G H A N B E D E L L

The Southeast Seattle Schools Fundraising Alliance (SESSFA) supports one big and bold idea: that school PTAs should raise funds together and distribute them equitably based on demographics. In doing that, the Alliance is helping improve students’ lives in 17 schools in the south end of the city.

By prioritizing schools with higher proportions of students of color, English Language Learners (ELL), homeless students, and special education students when we distribute the funds we raise, we are actively reducing inequities and paving the way for a brighter, more inclusive future for all students.

Why pool efforts and resources? We have realized that traditional PTA and PTSA school fundraising models only deepen existing disparities, leaving behind schools and students who need the most support. Pooling resources requires us to have empathy and understanding of others’ needs — and to think beyond ourselves. It also motivates us to work together. By cooperating to create a more equitable educa-

tional landscape, we strengthen the youth of our Southeast Seattle community.

Distributing funds equitably The crux of the SESSFA model lies in our equitable distribution of funds. By allocating a larger cut to schools with higher percentages of students of color, ELL, homeless, and special education students, we tackle head-on the systemic inequities that have persisted in our educational system for CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >

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Find support, connection, and resources for your family! PEPS offers peer-support programs for expectant parents, parents of newborns, infants, or adolescents and teens, plus affinity groups. Families can connect on weekdays and weeknights in virtual and in-person groups.

Join a PEPS Group today! Flexible Pricing program fees and financial assistance are available for all groups.

«What Parents Are Talking About CONTINUED

W W W. P E P S .O R G E Q M

far too long. Our goal is not to take away from other schools but to ensure that those who have historically received less support or no previous fundraising are enriched. Each PTSA is empowered to implement programs and support services that cater to the specific needs of its students.

My decision to get involved As a parent of three Southeast Seattle public school kids, I am motivated by the disparities in opportunities and resources students face based on their zip codes. Traditional school funding models are broken, and the circumstances of that brokenness should not limit a child’s potential. Collective community action can correct local, state, and national systemic failures. It’s not just about writing a check; it’s about fostering a community of caring parents, educators, and advocates who share the vision of a truly equitable world. By supporting our children within the public education system and collaborating, we become a potent force that goes beyond our own school boundaries, enriching the lives of all children. A stand for all children Involvement matters. But not just at our own children’s schools. Often, we get caught up in our daily routines, unaware of the vast disparities between schools just blocks away. It is crucial to inquire about the reasons behind differences in support, like reading specialists, after-school activities, art teachers, parental involvement, etc. Our advocacy for equitable education sends a powerful message to our children. We stand for



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justice, compassion, and fairness for our children and all children.

It is okay to be uncomfortable Experiencing discomfort through this movement has been enlightening. It compels me to question the status quo and listen actively. I am uncomfortable with the unequal opportunities for all kids. I am uncomfortable with enrichment disparities among schools due to varying abilities to fundraise. And I am uncomfortable with inadequate state and national funding of our schools. When we are uncomfortable, we can ask why and dig deeper. By listening and coming together, we can challenge what has been. Why should you get involved? The transformation we seek is not a solitary endeavor. It demands the collective effort of parents, educators, and community members. Whenever possible, let’s lend our time, skills, and resources to create a more equitable and inclusive educational system that aligns with our cherished values. When we unite behind a common goal, impact is amplified, and positive change ripples throughout the entire community. The SESSFA model of rethinking PTSA school fundraising is a call to action for a more just and inclusive future. Through collective pooling of efforts and funds and equitable allocation based on specific demographics, we can actively break down barriers to success and create opportunities for historically underserved students. As a parent, I find no greater mission to embrace. ABOUT OUR WRITER

Meghan Bedell is a parent of three kids and a site leader for the Southeast Seattle Schools Fundraising Alliance.

„ Read all of Jeff Lee’s columns on

»DadNextDoor A little encouragement from across the fence by J E F F L E E , M D

A moveable feast Most adolescents are the opposite of zen. Our 12-year-old’s frisky young brain races around at 90 mph, turning from one thought to another so quickly that half the time we have no idea what she’s talking about. She’s always three steps ahead of us, sussing out the situation and gaming her next move. It’s such a contrast to when she was little. As a toddler, she was completely in the moment. Once, on a visit to the zoo, she ignored a huge lion strutting and roaring a few feet in front of her because she was fascinated by a piece of masking tape she found stuck to the railing. Our prefrontal cortex is our greatest gift and our greatest curse. On the one hand, it allows us to plan and anticipate and organize our lives in ways that no other creature can even hope to duplicate. On the other hand, it pulls us out of the present and wastes our time ruminating over a past we can’t change and a future we can’t really predict. The word mindfulness is overused these days, to the point of becoming a cliche. It makes you think of celebrity websites that promote sustainably grown yoga mats and seven-day intestinal cleanses. Surprisingly, though, evidence for the benefits of mindfulness practices (such as meditation) is quite strong. Studies have shown lowering of blood pressure, decreased levels of stress hormones, improved sleep, and reductions in anxiety, depression and chronic pain. Given those benefits, why don’t we teach mindfulness as a basic life skill to our kids? The biggest reason, I’m guessing, is that most of us are crap at it. Once your monkey mind is full of carpools, mortgage rates, spreadsheets, and dentist appointments, it’s hard to clear out space for anything else. Apparently, waiting until you’re a frantic parent to learn mindfulness is a flawed approach. But if we find it hard to quiet our minds and focus on the present, imagine how difficult that must be for the monkey minds in our children’s little monkey bodies. I don’t know if people have had much success teaching meditation to kids, but it seems like a tough sell. Most of the time, it’s hard enough to get them to sit still for dinner. If your kids, like mine, seem like unlikely Bodhisattvas, maybe we should

try a different strategy. I teach a class for students who want to write their memoirs. One of the biggest challenges is getting them to focus on a single, precise moment, and to occupy it as vividly and completely as possible. The best way to do this, I’ve found, is to have them describe what they’ve experienced through their senses. Our senses have direct connections to the oldest parts of our brains. They bypass the prefrontal cortex and take a shortcut to the reptilian brainstem. Ever see a lizard sunning itself on a rock? Totally zen. So this is my thought. What if we took the I Spy game, which kids seem to love (though for adults it has approximately the same effect as Ambien) and adapted it to different senses? Imagine going on a walk with your kid — in the woods, or a park, or just down a city street. You take turns noticing something with your senses and giving a clue to what it is. Instead of the first letter of the word, you use a descriptive vowel or adjective, and then the other person tries to guess what it is. I spy with my little eye: something shiny, or floating, or neon-pink. I hear with my little ear: something tapping, or scraping, or babbling. I smell with my little nose: something yeasty, or burning, or sweet. I feel with my little skin: something slippery, or rough, or pulsating. Try to choose sensations that bring you a little ping of delight. Suddenly, the walk isn’t just a means of getting from point A to point B. Now it’s a feast for the senses. Once you start paying attention, you’ll begin to notice everything. Splashes of color and light all around you. Bird song in the trees, or someone a block away practicing the trumpet. The tickle of the wind on your neck, or the glide of your tongue on the back of your teeth. The smell of fresh bagels, cut grass, or some night-blooming vine you can’t even see. Every sensation is a tiny gift. It’s a moment that you occupy more completely and experience more vividly. It’s a portal to the priceless, unrepeatable now. And it’s always there for the taking, if we just pay attention.


history and culture

of the Tulalip Tribes

FIELD TRIPS Guided or self-guided tours, interactive demonstrations, group rates, private rentals and more available. 6410 23rd Ave NE Tulalip, WA 98271 360-716-2600


Jeff Lee practices strolling meditation in Seattle, WA.

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Hop on the free shuttle at the TO FIND A DIFFERENT ADVENTURE ON EVERY PIER




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»Romp Things to do with kids

Hello holidays! Festivals, runs, lights, markets, theater and more!

I don’t know about you, but October seemed to rush out my door this year. It left a whisper of pumpkin spice in the air, a lot of half-eaten Halloween candy, and a long list of things to do for the coming holiday season. Let’s face it, celebrations can sometimes feel overwhelming, what with the decorating, giving, crafting, baking, making, and desire to fulfill a family’s worth of wishlists. In my family, we try to balance any stresses by staying as present as possible in the moments that we share. In this way, we hope to soak in all the joy that the

holidays are meant to bring, but too often fall short of. Here’s something that I’ve found helpful to keep the holly-jolly spirit alive throughout the season: We choose and attend just a few holiday activities and events out of the myriad options we have. For example, we love filling our mugs with hot chocolate, getting into the car, and driving around neighborhoods to see the lights. We’ll also walk through our local holiday market in search of each year’s new ornament, something that symbolizes the year we’ve had. It’s a nice way to look back and share some of our fondest

memories with one another. We add new events or activities only when we all have the energy and the patience to enjoy them. This season, there are many ways to celebrate the holidays in and around the greater Seattle area. You can’t go wrong by choosing just the few that are meaningful and/or exciting for you and your family. Remember that celebrating the Go to holiday season is about 3Seattleschil togetherness. Enjoy and click on every moment. “Holidays” — Jasmin Thankachen

for events, re cipe and tradition s, s!

FESTIVALS & EVENTS The Polar Express™ All aboard the Polar Express for a 45-minute round-trip to the North Pole to see Santa Claus. Hear the story of the first gift of Christmas, have hot cocoa and cookies, and see the man in the red suit. Presented by The Chehalis Centralia Railroad. Weekends, November 11-December 23. $60 per person, kids 2 and under free. Seattle Festival of Trees at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Celebrating its 46th year, the Fairmont Olympic Hotel will host gorgeous displays of more than 20 decked-out trees. The trees will be sold, with proceeds going to Seattle Children’s Hospital. November 18-December 1. Free. Christmas Ship™ Festival Decked out in hundreds of lights, the party starts on The Spirit of Seattle, Argosy Cruises’ official Christmas Ship. Each sailing includes a choir performance and a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Prone to seasickness? Watch from local beaches and shorelines as the ships cruise by.

Ski-ball at Kringle’s Filling Station

November 24-December 23. $4074, kids age 3 and younger free. Kringle Filling Station Play ski-ball, join in holiday karaoke, games and more. Grab a cup

of hot chocolate pumped from an old gas pump. November 24-December 31. Tickets sold online. Seattle Winterfest Kick off your holiday festivities

with a trip to Seattle Center where you’ll find a train village, a holiday market and a variety of entertainment. Don’t miss the CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >

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Snowflake Lane at The Bellevue Collection

performance of “The Nutcracker,” collect candy and construct a gingerbread masterpiece, make peppermint sticks from scratch or celebrate 2024 with a kid-friendly New Year’s bash. Dates and prices vary, see website for more details. Gingerbread Village Display Visit the Sheraton Grand Seattle this year and see the spectacular

gingerbread house village made by architects, master builders, and chefs. Displays will be ready for viewing November 22-January 1. Free, but donations help the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. The Northwest Railway Museum and holidays on the train The 2-hour Santa Limited starts

from North Bend Depot and takes kids to meet Santa. Weekends, November 26 to December 17. $38 per person (ages 2 and older). The shorter 25-minute excursion is currently sold out. Seattle Children’s Museum Explore a winter market just for kids. Visit this seasonal exhibit at SCM and go sock skating, build snow people, and more. November 24-January 28. The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition Head over to Pike Place Market and cheer teams of carolers roving the streets as they compete to raise money for the Pike Market Senior Center and Food Bank. More than 10,000 spectators are expected, so plan ahead and get there early. December 1. Free. C-ID Santa visits Wing Luke Museum Meet Santa in the historic Chinatown-International District. Pay homage and reconnect with a space that is the foundation of CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >


ice artists carving spectacular sculptures on opening day at the International Fountain. November 24-December 31. Small Town Holiday at Lake Chelan Lights at the lake, Santa sightings, holiday shopping, and winter sports that include skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and more — that’s what you’ll find at Chelan in Eastern Washington during the holiday season. November 24-January 1. Snowflake Lane at The Bellevue Collection Snowflakes fall to the ground as a parade of costumed characters and magical floats glide down the street spreading holiday cheer. Stake out your favorite viewing spot early in the season and show up well before showtime. November 24-December 24. Free. KidsQuest Children’s Museum presents: Holiday Workshops Your little ones are invited to dance their hearts out to a



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FESTIVALS & EVENTS many cultures and heritages. Event is open and welcome to all. Saturday, Dec. 9, noon3 p.m. Advanced tickets recommended, $12/ print, up to two poses. Issaquah Reindeer Festival Kick off your holidays with this unique experience at the Cougar Mountain Zoo. Visit Santa, Rudolph, and all his friends. December 1-23 and 26-30. Book online for timed entry, reservations open November 1. Model Train Festival Choo-choose your favorite train model at the 27th Annual Train Festival at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. Learn about railroad history, sing songs, watch demonstrations, and see what it takes to be a rail engineer. Great for all ages. Festival exhibit included in museum admission, $14/ adult, $11/student. December 22-January 1. Holiday Magic at The Fair Purchase your tickets to the Holiday Magic event at Washington State Fairgrounds and enjoy interactive exhibits, light displays, an ice rink, food, shopping, and more. December 1-3, 8-10, 15-17, and 20-23, 4:30-9:30 p.m. Purchase tickets online for the best pricing. Bonsai Solstice Take an evening stroll amid the soft holiday lights surrounding the Pacific Bonsai Mu-

„ Go to and click on “Holidays” for events, recipes, and traditions!

seum’s collection of trees. Stay for holiday treats and more. December 16. The event is free, a donation is suggested and welcomed. Diving Santa at the Seattle Aquarium Santa doesn’t just fly with his reindeer, he also dives into the deep. Watch him swim gracefully in the 120,000 gallon Window on Washington Habitat at the Aquarium. He’ll stop at the window for photos and to wave hello. December 17, 18, noon and 3 p.m. December 24 at noon only. Event included in price of admission. Teddy Bear Suite at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel Snuggle in with some cuddly bears for a picture-perfect holiday outing. Every year, in partnership with Seattle Children’s Hospital, the Fairmont fills a hotel suite with teddy bears. Dates TBD. Free. Winter Wonders at Bloedel Reserve Take a guided solstice walk and enjoy the gardens on a wintry day. Stop at the reserve’s residence for festive fun — decorations, photo opportunities, and community-oriented activities. Family solstice walks will be held on December 18 and 20 and silent solstice walks will be on December 19 and 21. Time tickets are required, $22/adult, $5-$10/child, Free/child 4 and under.

LIGHTS Wild Lanterns at the Woodland Park Zoo The creators of Wild Lanterns have put together a brand-new show this year, although many fan favorites will be making a return. The theme this year is Land of Winter Wonders and the event promises to dazzle visitors with large light displays and interactive areas. November 10-January 14. Prices vary by day, peak weekend is $36.95/adult and $31.95/child (3-12), 2 and younger free. Diwali: Lights of India Join in this traditional Indian holiday celebrating the triumph of light over darkness. You’ll find music, food, demonstrations, art, and more at the Armory at Seattle Center. November 11, Free. Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Park Cozy up in your car as you drive through more than 300 elaborate displays with thousands of sparkling lights. Choose a weekday, early in the season, to avoid crowds. This year a preview show will be held November 17-19. Holiday showing CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >

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LIGHTS begins November 24-January 1. $15-$20. Watch for $10 discount days.

Village of Lights: Christmastown Drive over to Leavenworth where the town celebrates the holidays with more than half a million lights, music and entertainment, holiday characters, kids’ activities, roasted chestnuts, Santa photos and more. November 24-December 24. Free. Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo With 800,000 lights, the Point Defiance Zoo transforms its exhibits and pathways into a sparkly winter wonderland with lighted classics like the octopus, flame tree, and tiger face. Don’t forget to meet the groovy goats, then warm up around the fire while roasting s’mores. November 24-January 1, $7-$18, children 2 and younger Free. Light it up Rain or shine, head to your local

The Wild Lanterns at Woodland Park Zoo

tree-lighting ceremony. Watch a parade, sip hot chocolate, and catch the magic of holiday displays. Arrive early to stake out a prime spot for viewing. Dates and locations vary. Free. Westlake Center, Redmond Lights, Snohomish, Mountlake Terrace, Woodinville, Bothell, Kenmore, Auburn, Lakewood, West Seattle and more

Swansons Nursery Wander in the garden to enjoy a magical holiday outing, replete with thousands of glowing lights. Don’t miss the model train village or a visit with Santa.

November 11-December 31. Free.

Lights of Christmas at Stanwood Located an hour north of Seattle, this drive-thru light show in Stanwood is a must. As you drive, turn on the radio and listen to the display guide, Bruce the Spruce, as he takes you through each light display. New this year, two activity stops along the route. November 24-26, November 30-December 3, 7-10, 14-17, 20-23, 26-30. $32/ per car.

Bellevue Botanical Garden presents Garden d’Lights As you follow the pathways through the garden you’ll discover a variety of brightly lit displays, plant and animal shapes, rock formations, butterflies, bees, and birds. Be prepared: It’s a 1-mile walk. November 25-December 31. $8/person, children 10 and younger free. Watch for $5 nights, weekdays during the first two weeks of the show. Evergreen Christmas Lights A Bothell tradition: Hundreds of thousands of lights will cover an entire church building and will be synchronized to music. Stop into the pavilion for warm cookies, treats, a winter village, and train exhibit. December 1-24, 6-9 p.m. Free. Wintertide Lights Head to the Evergreen Arboretum and Gardens in Everett to experience a wealth of twinkling lights. Admission is free, but bring a can of food for the food drive. December 1-31.



A Lightwire Theater Production

NOV 15 – DEC 31 "...Spectacular-in every sense of the word." - SHARON OSBOURNE, "AMERICA'S GOT TALENT"

Tickets available at, by calling 206.441.3322, or by scanning this code



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Burn both energy and calories before indulging in holiday treats this season. Get the whole family out to run or walk at one of many turkey trots and holiday runs around the Seattle area. Event prices vary. November 18

⋅ Carnation Turkey Trot ⋅ Tacky Turkey Sweater 5K event November 23 ⋅ Seattle Turkey Trot ⋅ Auburn Turkey Trot ⋅ Magnuson Series ⋅ Thanksgiving Day Apple Cup 5K ⋅ Woodinville Turkey Trot ⋅ Tacoma City Turkey Trot ⋅ Issaquah Turkey Trot ⋅ Mukilteo Turkey Trot November 24 ⋅ Tacoma Donut Run ⋅ Bonney Lake Donut Run November 25 Last lap of the Seattle Kids Marathon. Participation in this annual event includes running, reading books, doing good deeds, and eating right. Register now and watch them take their ‘final lap’ in-person at Seattle Center. FREE. December 2 Wear your holiday attire and join the Electric Cookie Run around Green Lake. Then, collect your medal and eat fresh-baked cookies from local bakeries. Register online. December 10 Get your bells on for the annual Jingle Bell Run. Get into the spirit of this fundraiser by wearing a favorite holiday costume and shaking your bells the whole way. All proceeds go to the Arthritis Foundation. Register online. December 23 ⋅ Magnuson Series Holiday Fun Run December 24 Christmas Eve Ugly Sweater 5K Run/Walk and the Elf (Kids’) Dash. Kick off your Christmas Eve with this family-oriented romp. Holiday inflatables, Santa’s house, and the arrival of Jolly Old St. Nick add to the holiday cheer. Register online.

Now Enrolling

Inscripciones Abiertas Bilingual, Bicultural, Bilaterate

9 Toddlers (1-3.5 years) 9 PreK (3.5-5 years) 9 Kindergarten - 8th grade


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Spruce Street School

Spruce Street School is a K-5 elementary school that serves a wide-range of learners. Our dedicated faculty is highly skilled at meeting each student where they are, knowing when a student needs to be challenged and when they need to be supported. Our multiage classrooms promote leadership and celebrate diversity of all kinds.

“Nutcracker Magical Christmas Ballet” presented by Seattle Theatre Group

THEATRE Seattle Rep “Little Women” Set during the Civil War, the play follows the March sisters as they discover love, joy, loss, and the importance of having each other. Recommended for ages 10 and older. November 10-December 17, $20-$100. Seattle Children’s Theatre “A Very Electric Christmas” Follow the journey of a young bird named Max and his family as they migrate south

Sign up for a tour on our website. Downtown Seattle

for the winter. A gust of wind blows Max off course and takes him to the North Pole, away from his family. Join Max on his travels as he meets various holiday-inspired characters while trying to get back on course. November 16-December 31. $25. Paramount Theatre and Seattle Theatre Group “Nutcracker Magical Christmas Ballet” Featuring gifted dancers and artists from around the world, this classic holiday story includes jaw-dropping acrobatics, larger-than-life puppets and a hand-crafted, one-of-a-kind set. CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >

Math Classes Now Enrolling

for the Winter The Russian School of Mathematics is an award-winning after-school math enrichment program. We use the rigorous study of mathematics as a vehicle to develop our students’

Schedule a FREE Math Evaluation!

math fluency, intellect, and character, empowering them for life. Hybrid and in-person courses may be available; please inquire with our office for more information.

3 Locations in WA




(425) 518-6114

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(425) 230-6452

Math Classes Now Enrolling!


(425) 616-3511

THEATRE November 19, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Starting at $30. ACT “A Christmas Carol” Enjoy the 90-minute story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the visitors that lead him to gratitude and giving at the Allen Theatre. Suggested for children 5 and older. November 24-December 24. Prices vary. Watch for pay-what-you-can options. Pacific Northwest Ballet “George Balanchine’s Nutcracker” The classic holiday story of Clara and a nutcracker that comes to life, featuring Tchaikovsky’s magical music. November 24-December 27 at McCaw Hall. Starting at $29. The Trans-Siberian Orchestra The orchestra is back at Climate Pledge Arena. This year’s show, “The Ghosts of Christmas Eve — the Best of TSO & More,” follows the journey of a runaway who breaks into an abandoned vaudeville theater on Christmas Eve. Shows are on November 25 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Prices vary. Taproot Theatre “A Charlie Brown Christmas” The cartoon classic comes alive in this musical version. December 1-23. Starting at $10. Seattle Men’s Chorus “TREEmendous Holiday” It’s a night of truly festive and skilled singing with this joyful chorus. Now offering an abbreviated 1-hour show — perfect for kids with holiday sing-alongs and plenty of dancing. Performances at various stages, December 1-23. Starting at $40. The Neptune Theatre “O Christmas Tea: A British Comedy” Get ready to laugh with James and Jamesy in this engaging comedy show. Impeccable timing and physical movements with this duo make for an exciting evening. Playing at the Neptune Theatre and many other local stages in Washington. December 14 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets at the Neptune start at $33. McCaw Hall “Blippi” and “Elf in Concert” Watch Blippi and his best friend Meekah discover all the things that make a city unique and special. November 27, $35-$64. The heartwarming holiday tale “Elf” will be shown on the giant screen while the score is played live. December 29-30, starting at $65.

Logical + Imaginative + Intense + Verbal + Observant + Hands-on Gifted children exhibit these characteristics every day. Even so, many gifted students, especially children of color, remain overlooked in class. Not so at Seattle Country Day School. We offer our students an environment where they can ask questions, create, and grow intellectually and emotionally. See if SCDS is right for your child. Reach out today to Seattle Country Day School For gifted children, K–8 Rooted in inquiry. Dedicated to equity.

SOUNDVIEW SCHOOL now accepting applications A small, independent school in Lynnwood, WA (425) 778-8572 Nove mbe r/ D e c e mbe r 2 0 2 3

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Morningside Academy Magic in the Market at Pike Place Market


Foundation Grades 2-8

Middle School Grades 6-9

New Location in Capitol Hill! 206.709.9500


1 0A M - 10P M

AT GAGE C AP IT O L HI L L $10 tickets at the door. Under 18 free.


Edmonds Holiday Market Browse the aisles of vendors, snack at food shops, and support local businesses. November 4, 11, 18 and December 2, 9 and 16. See website for more information. City of Renton Holiday Bazaar Get a head start on your holiday shopping and support local artists. Featuring handmade, upcycled items for purchase. More than 7,000 visitors are expected, so be sure to get there early for the best selection. Renton Community Center, November 17-18. Crossroads Bellevue: Makers Market The Makers Market is where you’ll find an array of gifts made by local artisans. Spend the day shopping, listening to live music, enjoying foods from around the world, and more. November 18. Free. Nordic Museum’s Julefest: A Nordic Christmas Celebration Wander through the museumturned-market, as you explore Nordic dance, treats, and music. Shop for one-of-a-kind gifts for loved ones. Celebrating its 46th year, the Nordic Museum hosts more than 30 local retailers and artists, while exposing visitors to Nordic holidays and traditions. November 1819. Members: free, Non-members: $10, ages 12-18, $5, 12 and younger free. Ticket includes admission to the museum. Holiday Farmers Market and Crafts Fair at Third Place Commons Grab your grocery bags and head to this market just in time for Thanksgiving. A great place to buy your produce and other supplies for your holiday meals, then browse the selection of handmade items. November 19 and December CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >



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MARKETS 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Seattle Christmas Market Inspired by traditional German Christmas markets, this monthlong celebration takes place at the Fisher Pavilion and South Fountain Lawn at Seattle Center. Browse aisles of artisan crafts, gifts, traditional food and drink, interactive installations, seasonal decorations, and more. Join the event newsletter for more details. November 24-December 24. Tickets required, price TBD. Magic in the Market Make memories at Pike Place Market with more than nine acres of shopping and holiday cheer. Don’t miss the tree lighting ceremony at 5 p.m. November 25, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Free. Urban Craft Uprising Winter Show Located at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, this winter show is dedicated to local artisans and crafters. Find decor for your home, a unique gift for a loved one, or explore the latest trends in art. December 1-3. Friday is a preview ticketed night, 5-9 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 42nd Annual Winter Festival and Crafts Fair The Phinney Ridge Neighborhood Association will be spreading holiday cheer with this year’s holiday market and more than 120 artists will share their unique gifts for purchase. Also included: a quilt raffle, card art sale, entertainment, and good eats. December 2-3. $6 and a food donation to Family Works Greenwood Food Bank. South Lake Union Winter Market Visit and support the dozens of artists’ booths at this winter market. Go shopping for that extra-special gift, from jewelry to prints and much more. December 7-8, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. United Indians Native Art Market Head over to the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center for the annual Native Art Market. A variety of Native American art, jewelry, crafts, textiles, and other authentic gifts will be on display and for purchase. Free entry, but go early because parking is limited. December 15-17. Free.

, This winter join us for

F E T U N E W ! S Candy Connections

Play while learning about the history of candies. MON, NOV 13, 2023 – SUN, JAN 7, 2024 9:30am–5pm

Gingerbread Workshops

Create a gingerbread masterpiece and leave the mess to us! FRI, NOV 24, 2023: 1–3pm & 5–7pm SAT, NOV 25, 2023: 10am–Noon & 2–4pm

Dinner and Dancing

Pirouette with Flight Feathers Ballet during Nutcracker season! FRI, DEC 1, 2023: 6–8pm

Gin and Gingerbread

Sip on seasonal adult beverages as you decorate. 21+ event. FRI, DEC 8, 2023: 5–7pm

Candy Science Workshop

Use the magic of science to create peppermint sticks & sweets. FRI, DEC 8, 2023: 5–7pm

New Year’s Eve Countdown!

Our famous bubble wrap stomp runs at 10am, Noon, 2pm & 4pm. SUN, DEC 31, 2023: 9:30am–5pm

In downtown Bellevue!

For more info and to purchase tickets, visit:

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save the date!

Christmas Carnival

Find fun! Search our calendar by age, location, activity and cost.

12/9 & 12/16 »

NOV 24 – JAN 1 Presented by



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„ Don’t miss

“Cooking with kids: holiday clover rolls, pumpkin pie, Brussels sprout gratin” at »

Eating with kids

Nat Stratton-Clarke, owner of Cafe Flora

Sustainable feasting Bringing local to your holiday table by R E B E C C A M O N G R A I N / photograph by J O S H U A H U S T O N

The diverse holidays of the next two months are the perfect time to practice seasonal, sustainable feasting — whether at home or in your favorite restaurants. By choosing locally grown ingredients and buying from local businesses, eating sustainably supports the region’s local food system and environment. Visiting restaurants focused on sustainability allows your family to see and taste the movement in action and gain ideas for bringing it all home. For Megan Erb’s West Seattle family, sustainability and knowing who contributes to their

meals has become more important over the years, especially during family celebrations. “For us, eating sustainably at the holidays isn’t any different than eating sustainably year round,” says Erb. “We like to make it a point to continue to support our local businesses, especially women-owned businesses in our neighborhood. That’s why we always get turkeys for the holidays and other special events from our local butcher shop in West Seattle. That shows our children that we care about eating sustainably and the environment yearround.”

If sustainable cooking or dining out is new to your family, there’s no better time than November and December to start. “Fall celebrates bountiful food and the farmer,” says Nat Stratton-Clarke, owner of Cafe Flora. “Feasts are about food, but they are also about family, so trying to get kids involved in the chopping and mixing always makes the meal taste just that much better.” Stratton-Clarke says fall is his favorite time to share his passion for food with his twins, while at the same time nurturing the kids’ love of sustainably grown ingredients. Each year, the family celebrates the changing of the season by hitting up their local farmers’ market. There they taste a wide vari-

ety of apples grown in Washington. Each child chooses a favorite apple, then the family heads home to make apple cobbler using different types of apples. Tasting, choosing, and cooking helps build a deeper understanding and appreciation of sustainable farming. Stratton-Clarke’s twins get to meet farmers, enjoy the delicious tastes of fall fruit, and learn about variety. “The best place in Seattle to get sustainable and locally grown ingredients is your neighborhood farmers’ market,” says Stratton-Clarke “We are lucky to have so many great markets that now go year round and have produce that you are never going to find on a grocery store shelf. To be able to get 16 different CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE >

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Herby Yogurt Sauce from Nat Stratton-Clarke, owner of Cafe Flora 1 cup of any fresh herbs on hand 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/2 teaspoon cumin 1 cup Greek yogurt 1/2 cup feta 1 tablespoon of honey salt and pepper to taste

The restaurant’s menus are constantly evolving to reflect what is growing right now. Now in mid-fall, mushrooms are plentiful. Stratton-Clarke loves showcasing vegetables in new and intriguing ways — for example, Lobster Mushroom and Peach and Saffron Risotto — and encourages customers to try making similar dishes at home.

More than a


kinds of apples makes apple pie taste out of this world!” Preparing holiday feasts can sometimes be stressful, but Stratton-Clarke reminds families that we are lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest where fall and winter produce are abundant and varied. “There is so much joy in getting together and sometimes the stress of preparing the feast can take over,” says Stratton-Clarke. “I love the simplicity of roasting root vegetables, or sauteing gorgeous fall mushrooms and putting them over polenta.” Cafe Flora has thrived with this same spirit of variety and curiosity for more than 32 years. The Madison Park restaurant is a stalwart of locally-sourced vegetarian eating in Seattle. That commitment and a strong community vibe keeps families coming back, says Stratton-Clarke.



1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. 2. Cut up squash, sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables. Add a little salt and pepper and even a pinch of smoked paprika for a twist, and roast. Serve with polenta and herby yogurt sauce.

Mushrooms, Stratton-Clarke points out, “are a unique thing that grows here. They are special to us.” Sustainability is also at the heart of Humble Pie, a pizzeria at the center of the Rainier Valley. Architect and entrepreneur Brian Solazzi is a skilled forager and loves featuring mushrooms on Humble Pie’s menu.

Rocky Reach Discovery Center

Open 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday Located seven miles north of Wenatchee on Hwy 97A |

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“Chanterelles are the most common,” says Solazzi. “But Oysterhead mushrooms are the most sustainable.” When Solazzi first started Humble Pie, he wanted to live his values by creating a restaurant that not only grows some of its food on-site but also has a sustainable footprint. The restaurant doesn’t spend any money on electricity and has no food waste, which is unusual in the food industry. “One of the best ways to shop for local sustainable foods is by subscribing to a CSA,” says Solazzi. “CSA’s allow farmers to cut out middlemen as well as helping them to plan what to plant and harvest. They are also a great way to get a large variety of foods without shopping around. Plus they deliver!” One of Humble Pie’s favorite CSA’s is Small Acres Farm. The CSA has won awards for its innovative sustainability practices. The farm is powered by on-site solar panels and wind turbines. Chris Weber of The Herbfarm in Woodinville agrees with the importance of helping local farmers and producers stay sustainable, while also growing part of the restaurant’s food onsite. Weber suggests that families who want to create sustainable feasts at home start small. “When it comes to food, find one really great ingredient that has a story to tell at the table,” says Weber. “It’s such an easy way to spur conversation and see where it goes. Make the effort to know from whom that one ingredient is coming and make a connection with that person. For Thanksgiving, choose the turkey from a small farm. Plan ahead and grow something for Thanksgiving. If it [grows] you’ll have your own personal connection to share.” Megan Erb, the West Seattle mom, says her family follows that advice. Their daily and holiday meal ingredients are found by visiting Seattle’s many farmers’ markets. Even when traveling over the holiday season, the family likes to explore local farmers’ markets in search of locally-grown food. “Eating sustainably is getting easier in the PNW,” says Erb. “More grocery stores are starting to buy their food locally, giving more families the opportunity to eat local without the effort of googling which farm has what to offer during the holiday.” She also noted that sustainable food options can be as simple as growing a few herbs in your garden, as her family does. Invite your kids to harvest the herbs so everyone has a hand in making a family feast.




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Creating communities where kids flourish

Luka and Aika Franck making hoiday cookies.

Join the community of caring Where to volunteer as a family this holiday season by C H E R Y L M U R F I N photograph by J O S H U A H U S T O N

The holiday season and the winter beyond make the many needs in our community more apparent. How about making a family commitment to help make these months a little brighter for others? There are many ways that families can give or volunteer together, not only during the holiday season but into the new year as well. A great place to start is Doing Good Together, which offers a list of family-friendly volunteer options (with age specifics) as part of its Big Hearted Families program. Check out the Doing Good’s “12 Tips for Family Volunteering During the Holidays.”

Here are a few more ideas:

Host a gift drive Your family can help a foster family or a family experiencing homelessness or other crisis by hosting a fundraiser, or collecting and donating gift cards or gifts for kids. The cards you collect allow families to choose their own gifts for their children and purchase other essential items. Reach out to organizations such as YWCA, Lake City Holiday Project, Federal Way Cares for Kids, Bellevue LifeSpring, Wellspring Family Services, Hopelink, Compass Housing Alliance, Treehouse, The Forgotten Children’s Fund and Mary’s Place to learn more about holiday needs!

Volunteer to wrap presents

Sometimes the best part of a gift is the

Share your favorite homemade cookies by C H E R Y L M U R F I N

You know how the legend goes: Santa and his elves hammer away in a workshop at the North Pole in order to bring joy to kids everywhere. Here in Seattle, there is another legend: The Christmas People Foundation. For 25 years, group volunteers have quietly offered hope and hospitality to the city’s unhoused residents during the holiday season. The most important part of that hospitality? Home-baked cookies. Since 1998, The Christmas People have carried 125,000 homemade cookies to those in need. Local Rainbow Girls (scouts ages 12 to 18) provided 700 of 2022’s 7,000 cookies and the student group West Seattle Key Club has baked its share as well. And each year, cookies flow out of neighborhood block parties and individual families often drop off their favorite varieties. “It is important to have only homebaked cookies because it allows folks to know that total strangers cared enough to bake for them. Many times, two cookies are the only tangible thing a homeless person on Seattle streets receives,” says the Rev. Fred Hutchinson, who founded the organization with his wife Dr. Ruth Bishop. Over the years The Christmas People have provided nearly 40,000 meals, 20,000 pounds of bulk foods, 30,000 pairs of socks, 9,000 hats, 5,000 shirts, and, of course, loads of cookies. “Anyone can bring one cookie or 1,000,” says Hutchinson. “We truly do want families, groups, neighbors to have a really good time baking cookies and sharing quality time.” To learn how to give cookies or other donations to The Christmas People, contact Hutchinson at (206) 719-4979 or email Keeping baking! Compass Housing needs then too. On a baking roll? Compass Housing Alliance also needs cookies — lots of cookies — during the winter holiday season. Cookies can be homemade or store-bought and should be bundled in sets of 24. All homemade goodies must have a recipe card with a full list of ingredients. If your recipe contains nuts of any kind, make a clear note. They can’t take baked goods that need refrigeration. Deliver cookies to the Compass location on Dexter before 7:00pm on Dec 18th: 756 John Street, Seattle, WA 98109. Call 206-719-9137 to be let into the building. Early drop-offs are always welcome, so please contact Sam at 206-719-9137 to coordinate.


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wrapping. Sign your family up as volunteer wrappers during Compass Housing Alliance’s 2023 holiday giving campaign. Your family may also want to lend its support to The Forgotten Children’s Fund — they need volunteers to raise funds to purchase, wrap and deliver gifts to kids and their families who might otherwise go without.

Help prepare meals Every year,

the Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County (EFP) provides more than 420,000 meals throughout King County. Located in Renton, the EFP is always looking for volunteers of all ages to help pack food bags, provide help at distribution sites and host food drives. Additionally, food or money donations are greatly appreciated.

Help deck their halls

Do you have an elderly person or a nursing home in your neighborhood? Ask if your family can help others deck their halls this year by hanging lights or volunteering for other decoration duties. For a more structured family volunteer experience, consider the Compass Housing Alliance’s Deck the Halls program, in which you and yours can help decorate Christmas trees, hang lights, post holiday pictures, make paper snowflakes, and decorate wreaths to help make the season brighter at Alliance housing sites. Donations of

decorations are greatly appreciated.

Take someone to a restaurant

You and your kids can arrange to have favorite restaurant meals sent to one or more Mary’s Place shelters to provide weekend breakfast, lunch or dinner for families in care.

Even your baby can give back!

Were you inundated with gifts at your baby shower? Do you have extra unopened boxes of diapers that your baby outgrew? Westside Baby is happy to accept your baby’s donations of new (unopened) baby hygiene products, as well as gently used clothing, equipment (no furniture) and other essentials.

Host a toy drive

Donating toys can be a fun holiday activity for the whole family. Send out an email blast to friends and family and invite folks to drop toys off at your

house or offer to pick them up at theirs. Organizations like Seattle Children’s Hospital, Toys for Tots, and other organizations will gladly accept the fruits of your family’s toy-collection labor and get them to kids. Seattle Children’s Hospital requires an appointment to drop toys off.

Host a food drive

A food drive is something in which your whole family can be involved. Many organizations even provide resources such as printable flyers and food-collection containers to help your drive succeed. Here are just a few of the organizations that you can partner with for a family food drive: Food Lifeline distributes donations to 275 member agencies across Western Washington; Northwest Harvest uses donations to provide more than 2 million meals to Washingtonians every month; Emergency Feeding Program of Seattle and King County works with 200 partner agencies across King County to provide food bags to anyone in need. Hopelink provides food bank, food delivery, and emergency feeding services to families in crisis in Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland, Shoreline and Sno-Valley.

Give back to Santa

Vancouver mother of two Lindsay Backous Rayomond says her children have been giving back to the jolly old gent since day one. “They put toys and books they no longer use out for Santa on Christmas Eve, and then Santa takes them away for other children who would love them.” Santa has partnered with numerous organizations to receive your gifts, since he is quite busy. Among them are Eastside Baby Corner, Goodwill Seattle, Lifelong



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Thrift, Salvation Army Thrift Store & Donation Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital Thrift Stores, and Wellspring’s Baby Boutique.

Drop off traditional holiday plants and flowers

Many local nursing homes and senior centers try to keep the spirit light and holidays bright for the elderly. Consider bringing holiday flowers or poinsettias to a cancer or an eldercare facility near you and dropping them at the front desk. Include a note inviting the staff to give them to a resident who may need extra cheer during the holidays. Or leave a bouquet or plant anonymously on a senior neighbor’s stoop.

Offer some soap for hope

Collect unused soaps or other toiletries from neighbors and friends and deliver them to the annual AAA Washington Soap for Hope drive. The drive takes place November through December, but donations are accepted year round. Items are distributed to local charities throughout Washington.

Help prep a meal for struggling teens

For families with teens age 15 and older, consider helping to prepare a holiday meal at Teen Feed. Volunteers cook and package mobile meals in the Teen Feed kitchen. Other Teen Feed volunteer opportunities are available for all ages.

Smile: The simplest way to give

It’s hard to see someone in pain or need. But looking away can make those who are struggling feel invisible. Teach your children to offer a simple smile when they encounter unhoused people or others struggling in our midst. Or invite them to draw a smile as a way to cheer up people who are far from home or without extended family, for example military personnel or forgotten seniors. Go to Color a Smile to learn how you and your children can make cheerful drawings that the non-profit will then distribute to folks who need a boost.

Need help finding a good volunteer opportunity for your family?

United Way of King County, Volunteer Match and Volunteer Centers of Washington all offer searchable databases to help you find a great giving fit for your clan.

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holiday guide

Subscription Rock Box from Rock Solid Science

A subscription rock box makes a great gift, especially for the rockhound kid in your life! When you begin a subscription, the first box you will receive is the Welcome Box, then the box themes change each month or each quarter depending on your plan. Items are hand-picked and thoughtfully packed to appeal to young collectors. Each box is a new surprise to unwrap! Learn more about the rock club at

Wing Luke Museum

Robot vs Sloth

Wing Luke Museum’s Marketplace offers a hand-selected collection of cards, gifts, books and toys from Asian American, Pacific Islander and Native Hawaiian creators. Find a little something for everyone, from crafts and books for young readers to self-care gift sets, accessories and jewelry crafted by local artisans. If shopping conscientiously is on your list this year, this is the perfect chance to shop local and support small businesses.

Love sloths? Crazy for robots? Like cute animals fighting each other? Robot vs Sloth tees are perfect for anyone in your family! Designed by Seattle artist La Ru, screen printed locally in Seattle on super soft tees. Available in adult, youth, toddler and onesie sizes for $25 - 34. Robot vs Sloth is located in the historic Pike Place Market and features art and gifts by 45+ (mostly local) artists.

719 S King St., Seattle, WA 98104


1535 1st Ave., Seattle, WA 98101 Facebook and Instagram: @robotvsloth

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Clover Toys

4609 14th Ave. NW, Ste. 103, Seattle, WA 98107 (206) 782-0715 CloverToysSeattle • @clovertoys • clovertoys Clover Toys in Ballard, Seattle, is a charming kids’ store with handmade wooden animals, make-believe toys and creative kits. Discover cozy blankets, cute rattles and teething toys for babies, plus classic wooden toys for little ones. Visit our new Ballard Blocks location!

Everything Elderberry

Give the gift of wellness this season by gifting elderberry syrup, elderberry gummies, infused honey or elderberry cocoa! Elderberry is one of nature’s best remedies for a variety of ailments. Our syrup is made locally with organic ingredients your family will love. One serving a day as part of your vitamin routine is all you need. Elderberry syrup can also be added to your daily smoothies or even used in baking mixes (our kids love Saturday morning elderberry pancakes)! Enjoy $5 off with Coupon Code: SEATTLESCHILD5

The Museum of Flight

9404 East Marginal Way South, Seattle, WA 98108 Special Holiday Offer: 15 months for the price of 12! That’s three months FREE! With a membership to The Museum of Flight, families get unlimited visits to the Museum and access to members-only events like STEM Starters for kids ages 3 to 5 to explore the wonders of aerospace. Other perks: 15% Museum Store discount, discounts on Museum events and a subscription to Aloft magazine featuring a Junior Aviators section. Holiday offer available through December 31, 2023. Restrictions may apply.

Duke & Mae Welcome to our hand-curated baby, toddler and children’s boutique! We take pride in offering a selection of only the best toys, fashionable clothes and accessories for your little ones. Our toys are carefully chosen to engage your child’s imagination, promote learning and provide endless hours of fun. Join us in creating memorable moments and happy smiles with our hand-curated selection, that is kid tested and parent approved.

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holiday gift guide

S p e ci a l Adve rt i s i ng S e ct i o n

MOHAI Give the gift of history this holiday season with a MOHAI membership! With unlimited access to our compelling exhibits, engaging events and exclusive member benefits, a MOHAI membership is the key to unlocking a world of discovery. It’s a gift that will inspire, educate and create lasting memories. Get your MOHAI membership today and save $10 on all gift memberships now through December 31, 2023. Gift a membership at and make this holiday season unforgettable.

Full Olive Fine Foods (206) 960-0424

What better gift for the holidays than a box of delicious goodies for family and friends! We are a Seattle-based gourmet foods company started by PNW native Adam Stern. Full Olive specializes in olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and spreads from small producers in Argentina where Adam lived for 15 years. Our Holiday Boxes are the perfect gift for families who love healthy food options that also taste great.

Get into the spirit with 8 weeks of holiday giveaways!



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Enter to win a prize for yourself or to give to a friend. See our website for prize details and eligibility. Giveaways start November 1st.

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n our house, we celebrate Christmas, a holiday I approach with both adoration and dread. Here are the parts I adore: 3Decorating cookies in a quiet kitchen and putting swooshes of melted chocolate on tiny cookie trees (this noiseless scenario is possible only after my children have fallen asleep, obviously). 3Putting up the ugliest Christmas tree in the world, a skinny, pre-lit abomination my husband acquired before we married. It comes with pink, purple, and silver ball ornaments. We use every single one. 3Reading my kids “The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey,” about a grumpy woodcarver who finds the Christmas spirit, while chuckling at the enemies-to-lovers subplot. Here are the parts I dread: Buying gifts. Receiving gifts. Managing gifts my children receive. I am, in other words, a bit of a party pooper. I know other parents have mixed feelings, too. For some, holidays represent a wasteful accumulation of, well, stuff. For others, gifts signal holiday hopes left unfulfilled due to shrinking budgets. Nevertheless, people still buy gifts — lots and lots of them. According to a Gallup poll, Americans spent an average of $932 on Christmas gifts in 2022. How did we get here? When did spending almost a thousand dollars on gifts become synonymous with a holiday established to celebrate a baby born in a stable? According to historian Stephen Nissenbaum, the answer is: the 1820s.

For some, holidays represent a wasteful accumulation of, well, stuff. For others, gifts signal holiday hopes left unfulfilled due to shrinking budgets.


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On holiday giving

strengthen bonds






uring Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, parents Kunjan Kapoor and Nitin Mehrotra celebrate with not one, not two, but three different types of gifts. In India, their memories of the five-day festival include buying food, decorations, and objects for worship at bustling markets open both day and night. One item on many shoppers’ lists was a gold or silver coin — if you had the means. This would be placed on the home altar the following day, an offering for the Goddess Lakshmi. This is the first gift, intended for worship. So revered is the goddess that Mehrotra remembers being put to work as a child the day before, cleaning his family home until not a speck of dust remained. “Diwali is supposed to be the day when the goddess of wealth and fortune visits your house,” he chuckled. “So you don’t want to take any risks with her!” The third day, families decorate with lights and marigold flowers, arranging oil-filled clay lamps called diya all around their houses, to be lit once darkness falls. In the evening, they gather to worship both Lakshmi and the elephant-headed Lord Ganesha, the remover of obstacles, with prayers, songs, and the offering of precious metal. “Then you start moving from one house to the other,” says Mehrotra, “exchanging gifts.” Dried fruits and melt-in-your-mouth Indian sweets, fancy chocolates or gift hampers would be

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given to neighbors, friends, and relatives, meant to be shared by entire households. These are the second gifts, given “out of happiness,” says Kapoor. The fifth day of the festival is when Mehrotra and Kapoor would traditionally celebrate bhai dooj, the third form of gifting, and one that takes place between siblings. “Sisters put tilak on their brother’s forehead,” a colorful decorative mark, says Mehrotra. “In exchange, brothers promise to the sisters that they will always protect them.” He and Kapoor now live in Sammamish with their 13-year-old son Ashank and 9-year-old daughter Taavishi. They practice bhai dooj with a modern twist. After all, says to Mehrotra, “Some sisters don’t like to be told that they need to be protected. Sometimes it’s the other way around and it’s the sisters protecting the brothers!” Instead of focusing on protection, the children look forward to bhai dooj “because it’s one way to bond,” Mehrotra says, explaining that it’s a playful occasion filled with banter. These days, neither of them have to brave a crowded market to find each other gifts. Instead, like most modern consumers, their mother reports that “they order online for each other.” Kapoor and Mehrotra have also modernized Diwali in one other way: “We mostly do Christmas lights,” Mehrota says, with a bark of laughter. In other respects, however, Ashank and Taavishi “We like to continue celebrating Diawali. whatever we have been doing in the past back in India and in our childhood days,” says Kapoor. In addition to all the fun, Kapoor and Mehrotra also hope their children learn the values that the holiday represents. Both grew up in Uttar Pradesh, a northern Indian province where Diwali commemorates a legend from the Ramayana, when Lord Rama returns victorious to his hometown after 14 years in exile, having vanquished a demon king and rescued his kidnapped wife. Upon learning of his return, his people burned lamps to light his way home. For Mehrotra, this story is at the heart of the celebration. “This festival keeps reminding us that you just do your best and then eventually good overcomes evil.”

Diwali Nov. 12


In his book, “The Battle for Christmas,” his descriptions of Christmas celebrations in post-Medieval Europe and colonial America would be unrecognizable today. He writes that these earlier Christmases were characterized by public revelry, so rowdy that authorities worried about social unrest (think spring break in Cancun, minus the bikinis, plus a dose of working-class protest). But by introducing St. Nicholas as a Santa figure via the wildly popular poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas” (published in 1823), elites in New York sought to maintain order by recasting the holiday as a child-centered day celebrated at home with a profusion of commercially purchased gifts. Knowing that the commercialization of Christmas was an invention of a bunch of hoity-toity old men worried about their social standing is discomfiting and also freeing. We can continue to shape the practice until it more accurately reflects our values? When you look beyond the wrapping paper, gifts play many roles. In European folk tales, when given by a flock of birds in the forest or perhaps an old crone by the side of the road, gifts functioned as a source of power. To the Muckleshoot and other Indigenous People of the Pacific Northwest, giving is a way of keeping culture alive. As I researched holiday gifting traditions and chatted with families all over Greater Seattle, I hoped to rediscover what meaningful gift-giving can look like. Families shared how gifts serve as conduits to cultural heritage, a way to remember ancestors, a connection to a faith tradition, a means to pass down cherished values, a way to strengthen bonds, and a way to serve their community. I was reminded that not all gifts come wrapped in a box. What I learned was this: Gifts are always about more than the gift itself. And gifts, like their givers, can take many shapes.

The Speizer family lights the menorah.


time and service



ate Speizer, a rabbi at a large reform congregation in Seattle, first points out that Chanukah is a minor holiday in Judaism. Also spelled Hanukkah, the celebration was never intended to be a huge deal. Historically, Chanukah commemorates a Jewish victory over those who had desecrated their Temple in Jerusalem. Some see it as a holiday that celebrates freedom from oppression and the ability to practice religion openly. The most widely known tale from the Chanukah story is that of an oil lamp. With only enough fuel for one day, it stayed burning for eight, a miracle that inspired oil-rich treats like crisp potato latkes, sufganiyot (a jelly-filled donut), and, in America at least, cause for eight nights of gifts. “We both want to honor the dominant culture that this is a festive time of year with parties, and we don’t have to do Christmas to fit in,” observes Speizer. “We can participate in it, but we can mark some of our own things, which are all at the same time of year.” In her own home, yes, they do gifts, yes, they eat chocolate gelt — but mostly the holiday

is about light. “During the shortest and darkest days of the year, Jewish tradition invites us to spend time in our homes where we light Chanukah candles and place them in our windows for the world to see,” Speizer says. Light holds significance beyond the candles glowing in the Chanukah menorah. For Speizer, her husband, and two children, Chanukah is an opportunity to “bring more light into our world” through giving and acts of service. These, she says, are related to the Jewish value of tzedakah, which she describes as “acts of justice.” “Any time we enter into Jewish sacred time we’re invited to give to those in need before we take care of our own celebrations,” she says. “Donating in someone’s honor is a long-held Jewish custom.” While Chanukah provides an opportunity to donate to a cause her family cares about, Speizer points out that giving can take many forms. “We can’t, as a family, always write the biggest checks,” says Speizer. So in addition

to donating money, they uphold the value of tzedakah through service and donating items that others might appreciate. For her kids, this might mean volunteering at the University District Food Bank. For Speizer, it might mean helping to build tiny homes with Sound Foundations NW. Part of the beauty of tzedakah is that it is rooted in solidarity with a larger community. “We’re all responsible for one another,” says Speizer, “and when someone is lacking, we’re all lacking.” Of course, her family still celebrates with presents, often from relatives — this is America, after all, where giving gifts during the winter holidays is prevalent. But the presents are as varied as those receiving them. Speizer herself appreciates gifts of time and service. “A handmade coupon book from my kids, offering breakfast in bed and neck massages. tops my list of favorite gifts for any occasion.” Her 13-year-old daughter looks forward to the prospect of bigger, more significant gifts during Chanukah. Her 15-year-old son is more nonchalant, and once suggested stretching a box of juggling balls over multiple nights for his Chanukah gifts. “Like, give me the box of the juggling balls the first night and a juggling ball the second night so I have something to open each night,” Speizer recalls, laughing. Speizer adds that the Jewish values her family live by during Chanukah are the same that anchor them year round: respect, giving back, and being responsible.

h Chanuka Dec. 7-15

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inter solstice, the longest night of the year, begins on December 21 at 7:27 p.m. in the Pacific Northwest (and throughout the Northern Hemisphere). It marks the transition from darkness into light — specifically, the beginning of lengthening days and shortening nights. Coming as it does right around — or smack dab in the middle of — the holiday season, it’s also a welcome reminder for my family to slow down, jump out of the consumer stream, and be more present to the elements around us. Solstice is an invitation to connect with nature, recognize all the gifts it provides, and celebrate nature’s generosity in our lives. These concepts are enormous, even for those of us who pass as adults, but how about for kids? As a parent, it’s essential for me to give my children the tools they need to live as whole beings and to recognize that they are part of and responsible for the natural world. What I’ve found through the years is that kids are quick learners, eager to help the Earth, and excited to celebrate the returning light



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(which will eventually bring back long days outside). Solstice is an opportunity to shift the emphasis from shopping and gifts of “things” to being conscious of and grateful for the precious gift of living on this planet. So, how do you integrate the abundant gifts of winter solstice into your winter holiday season? Here are some ideas from my family: 3Start before the longest night of the year with conversations about night and day, light and dark, rest and growth. Go out in the daylight and see the small things — frost on the grass, birds eating berries, leaves turning colors, warm sunlight on your face. Go out at night, smell the air, look at the moon and stars, and hear the quiet. 3Go to the library or bookstore and pick up books that tell stories about solstice and winter. Look for books that show how different cultures recognize this time of year. Try “The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice” by Wendy Pfeffer. One of my kids’ favorites is “Owl Moon” by Jane Yolen. 3Talk with your children about people without houses and what this time of year means for them. If you have the means, consider giving winter clothing, new socks, blankets, and money to local shelters. 3Go outside and gather items from nature to decorate your home. Make a centerpiece for the table from leaves and dried flowers, berries, curvy sticks, boughs, and grasses. Remember the rocks! 3Give the gift of connection by hosting a winter solstice celebration. The theme is the sun’s return, so think golden colors, warming elements, and fire. Invite family and friends to your home for a potluck on the night of the solstice and ask them to bring foods that are golden in color. 3Include your children in the party by making cookies in the shape of the sun with yellow icing. While you are baking, ask them why they think the sun is so crucial to all living things and why we celebrate its return. What was the world like before there was electricity and lights in every house? 3And, of course, if you can have a solstice fire, do it! Fires on the night of winter solstice symbolize light arriving in the form of longer daylight hours to follow. I’ve borrowed an Iranian custom for our solstice fire: Everyone brings a poem to read aloud. Help younger children find a poem they like and then read it aloud for them. I always read a poem called “Remember” by Joy Harjo. Other families I know light a fire, and then each person writes three intentions they hope to manifest as the days lengthen. In a season that can be stressful, expensive, and perhaps leave some people feeling disconnected, think about taking the time to create a quiet celebration of the natural world and our place in it. Celebrating the winter solstice is a gift to your children that will last a lifetime.


Winter Solstice Dec. 22



by C H A R L E N E D Y / photograph by J O S H U A H U S T O N


n Sophia Agtarap’s family, Christmas is a working holiday. Her sister is a United Methodist pastor. Her father is a retired pastor. Her other sister? Married to a pastor. Every year, they could count on at least one moment of family time: Noche Buena, the traditional Filipino midnight feast held on Christmas Eve. During childhood years in Iowa without extended family nearby, Noche Buena consisted of an intimate meal with her parents and sisters. Their dining table held a mix of midwestern and Filipino staples: dinner rolls and rice, ham and kare-kare, a beef and peanut stew. With her father working as a pastor while also earning his doctorate, gifts were modest. Yet there was rarely a sense of not enough. For her “big” present one year, she received a white button-up shirt, with each button in the shape of a tiny clock. “I thought that was like, the COOLEST thing,” she laughs. Now with children of her own, Agtarap, who lives in Tacoma, approaches gift-giving as a balancing act, keeping generosity and gratitude in mind as guiding principles. About her five-year-old son Kai, she says, “We want him to develop a sense of gratitude, and not expect

that when we go to a store that he’s going to walk out with a toy.” What that looks like is having intentional conversations with him about his wants and needs. She might ask, “What is it that you like about this? Do you have something that’s already like this at home? It’s trying to instill and build some discernment in him.” At the same time, “We want you to also experience what generosity feels like,” she continues. “That someone thought of you, and bought this thing for you, and hoped you would enjoy it!” But, she emphasizes, things are rarely perfect. There are still moments when a gift from grandma could have been handled with more gratitude. “Like, ‘Lola just gave that to you and now it’s on the floor,’” Agtarap says. “It’s very messy. We have to practice!” In her professional life, Agtarap directs equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives in higher education. A member of a student services team once asked her about how to encourage a sense of belonging among students. “There’s a difference between ‘You’re invited to this thing’ and ‘I created this thing with you in mind.’”

Noche Buena Dec. 24


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Kwanzaa Dec. 26Jan. 1

Pete and Janelle Durham, with son Ben, hang Christmas ornaments on the tree.


the present pile ONE GIFT, ONE PERSON AT A TIME by C H A R L E N E D Y / photograph by J O S H U A H U S T O N


efore having children, Janelle Durham remembers visiting one of her brothers for the holidays. “Based on our experiences growing up, we were used to the ‘one person opens a present at a time, we all ooh and ahh over it’ thing.” Another visiting relative had picked out a special book for each of that brother’s children, and was hoping to be able to talk about why he loved the book and had chosen it for them. “We had this whole expectation about what the holiday would look like,” she notes. But her brother had adopted a new practice. Piles and piles of presents were stacked under the tree, but his five kids weren’t allowed to touch them until Christmas morning. “At 7 a.m., all five children descended,” she says. “It was like a feeding frenzy. It was over in 10 minutes, and then it was like, ‘Well, what do we do with the rest of the day?’” Once she had her own children – Martin,

s Christma 5 2 . Dec



framed photo of Maya Angelou sits by the window. Above the computer is a candid snapshot with the playwright August Wilson. In her Central District apartment, Nana Kibibi Monié is surrounded by mementos of a life devoted to African-American performing arts. The executive director of Nu Black Arts West Theatre and a respected elder in Seattle’s black community, Monié is often invited to Kwanzaa celebrations to participate in pouring libations. She leads community members in paying tribute to Black ancestors, giving a libation statement, and performing the ritual of pouring water on a living plant. Now in her 70s, Monié was among the earliest in Seattle to celebrate the holiday. In fact, she remembers first hearing about Kwanzaa in the 1960s, not long after it was created by scholar and activist Dr. Maulana Karenga to celebrate Black heritage. “During that time there was a vigorous embrace of Black cultural expressions like art, Black music, Black poetry, Black dance,” explains Lanesha DeBardelaben, president and CEO of Northwest African American Museum. “And this cultural holiday was [born].” Starting on December 26 and lasting until January 1, each of Kwanzaa’s seven days centers on a guiding principle: Unity, Self-Determination, Collective Work and Responsibility, Cooperative Economics, Purpose, Creativity, and Faith. The holiday is often celebrated communally in Seattle, with events hosted each night by different organizations. “We’re not just gathering in our nuclear family around the hearth,” explains DeBardelaben. “We are getting together as a larger community to recognize what our cultural values are and to reaffirm them.” While gift-giving during Kwanzaa is technically a part of the celebration, many families minimize presents. “We don’t want it to be about giving presents, like Santa Claus,” notes Monié. “The gift is the gathering itself.” Monié’s family would gather every year with many others. Monié has two daughters. Her youngest, Sauda Porter, is a mother of three and says that as a child, she experienced Kwanzaa as pure joy. Going to celebrations was, and

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Isabel, and Ben – she thought back to her own childhood, and decided to reclaim the tradition of taking things slowly. On Christmas morning, they do a leisurely gift exchange, where each person receives exactly one gift. “We tell all the adults who are coming, ‘One,’ Durham laughs. ‘ONE gift!’” During the exchange, family members take turns. It goes like this: “Okay, it’s Bela’s turn — we call grandmother Abuela, Bela, says Durham. “We all go ‘Who did Bela get a gift from? Oh, Martin got the gift for Bela!’” The whole family watches Bela open the gift, and then Martin explains why he got that gift for his grandmother. “It’s funny,” Durham says, “There’s only about a dozen gifts that get given and it takes a couple hours to open them all.” For Durham, “It’s much more about connection than it is about consumerism. The gifts are the excuse for what we’re doing. The main focus is more on the social time and the connection than it is on what’s in the CONTINUED ON PAGE 34 >

remains, a tremendous gift to her and her children. “I took my children because I wanted them to know their history,” says Monié, “but also to know a community that celebrated their blackness with pride and purpose.” Through drumming, dance, song, speeches, rituals, art, and food, Porter says that she was able “to hear culture, and to see and feel it.” Those learning experiences, she said, were “steeped into her spirit,” and helped her make sense of what it meant to be Black. Like her mother before her, “I am completely and utterly in love with Black people,” Porter declares. And that’s her hope for the next generation, too. “I want my children to love their community,” she says. “For me, that’s what Kwanzaa did.”

Get Involved The Northwest African American Museum (NAAM) will be hosting their annual Kwanzaa event on December 30, 2023. This year, they will be celebrating the Kwanzaa principle of Nia, or Purpose. More information will be available on NAAM’s website,, in December.

Mother Nana Kibibi Monié and daughter Sauda Porter celebrate their Black culture.

Illuminate Your Holidays!

November 10, 2023 January 14, 2024 Get tickets and information at

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package.” Durham teaches parent education at Bellevue College. “One of my core things as a parent educator is: there’s no one right way to parent. So I never tell anyone else that this is the way to do gift-giving, right? Because it’s what works for my family. What I want everyone to do is be intentional about what their goals are. “At holiday time, it’s easy to get swept up in other people’s traditions.‘This is what I did when I grew up,’ or ‘This is what somebody on Pinterest does,’ or ‘This is what my friends on Facebook do.’” Trying to keep up can get exhausting during the holidays. Instead, Durgan tells parents: “Think about what gives it meaning to you and do those things.”


replied Agtarap. So it is with gifts. As a giver, knowing someone well enough to choose the perfect gift is an act that brings Agtarap great joy. “It’s less about the actual thing,” she notes, “but about the relationship that is deepened when we exchange something meaningful.” Years ago in Nashville, when she was still dating her now-husband, they put together a special present for his teenager Trinity, now Agtarap’s stepdaughter, who was a huge fan of the British singer-songwriter Sam Smith. As Trinity opened the gift, her eyes welled up with tears. Not only had they given her a vinyl record of Smith’s, but they had tucked inside a ticket to see him perform at the Grand Ole Opry. Using gifts as a channel for connection gained new meaning during the pandemic, when her family was unable to gather for Noche Buena. Instead, each household cooked something special, then packaged it into three separate containers. Agtarap made lumpia, Filipino-style spring rolls. Her mother made pancit, a celebratory noodle dish. Then one of her sisters, who owned a car with four-wheel drive, braved icy streets to deliver gifts of food between Tacoma and Sumner, making sure that every member of the family was able to partake of the Christmas Eve feast.



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Holiday Magic!




here are many ways to enjoy the long nights of fall and winter holidays, not the least of which is a good old-fashioned family movie night. There are plenty of entertaining flicks out there — invite your crew to cuddle up with a bowl of chivda, a plate of latkes, or popcorn and hot chocolate — and indulge.

Diwali “Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham…” (2001) 210 minutes, Not Rated, available on Netflix

“Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham…” is emotional, melodramatic and utterly ravishing with a commendable mixture of comedy and serious drama. The Diwali scene in this film is one that is largely considered iconic among Bollywood lovers and is sure to bring a festive feeling to any Diwali celebration.

Thanksgiving “Fantastic Mr. Fox” (2009)

87 minutes, PG, available on Max

The film’s hues of pumpkin, maroon and gold project all the fall vibes that make Thanksgiving such a vibrant holiday. “Fantastic Mr. Fox” focuses on a community coming together, an equitable division of resources and choosing the greater good over individual prosperity. Throw Wes Anderson into the mix, and this is the perfect Thanksgiving watch.

Native American Heritage Day “The Cherokee Word for Water” (2013) 92 minutes, PG, available on Kanopy

Based on real-life events, “The Cherokee Word for Water” tells the riveting story of Wilma Mankiller, the first modern female Chief of the Cherokee Nation, who brought a 16-mile waterline system to an impoverished indigenous community in 1980s Oklahoma. In the process, Mankiller inspired many to embrace their longheld values and tight-knit community.

Winter Solstice “Frozen” (2013)

102 minutes, PG, available on Disney+

“Frozen” is the ultimate Winter Solstice viewing. Yule is, after all, a Nordic tradition that celebrates the return of the sun. Arendelle is cursed to a perpetual winter until the spell is lifted. Based loosely on Hans Christian Andersen’s 1844 fairy tale, “Frozen” is a sure bet for thawing hearts of viewers during the longest day of night.

Hanukkah “An American Tail” (1986) 80 minutes, G, available on Starz

The Mousekewitzes, a family of Russian-Jewish mice, are celebrating Hanukkah when antiSemitic arsonists set their house ablaze. In search



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of a life free from persecution, the clan emigrates to America. Fievel is an adorable, innocent lead who can usher young viewers through an early introduction to Jewish traditions and the immigrant story.

“Full-Court Miracle” (2003)

90 minutes, TV-G, available on Disney+

Some may remember this early-aughts film as just another Disney Channel Original Movie. But what “Full-Court Miracle” does so well is to mix a modern, made-for-kids discussion of Hanukkah with an underdog sports saga. The script is smart, authentic, and sincere in its portrayal of coming-of-age kids searching for their own miracle.

Christmas “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992) 85 minutes, G, available on Disney+

A list of Christmas films would not be complete without at least one adaptation of the Charles Dickens’ classic, and “The Muppet Christmas Carol” is easily at the top of the list. The film will delight the entire family with its original music, comedic puppets and a heavy dose of good cheer. Merry Christmas, everyone!

“Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey” (2020) 120 minutes, PG, available on Netflix

Gleefully extravagant and colorfully offbeat, “Jingle Jangle” is a highly original new entry into the Christmas canon and one into which elementary school kids can thoroughly indulge. The original musical extravaganza tells the holiday tale of an eccentric toymaker, his spunky granddaughter and a Christmas adventure with an uplifting message about family and following one’s dreams.

Kwanzaa “Soul” (2020)

100 minutes, PG, available on Disney+

Notably the first Pixar film to embrace African-American culture, “Soul” is a wonderfully complex film sure to entertain viewers of all ages. With its gorgeous imagery and breathtaking music, this film about human connectivity will likely charm the whole family.

“The Black Candle” (2008) 71 minutes, Not Rated, available on Shout! Factory TV

Narrated by legendary writer, poet and activist Maya Angelou, the documentary explores the holiday’s development out of the Black Power movement of the 1960s through its modern-day celebration as a pan-African holiday observed by over 40 million people worldwide.

New Year’s “Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne” (2021) 38 minutes, TV-G, available on Apple TV+

Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang are back in this characteristically thoughtful and funny animated special. “For Auld Lang Syne” is destined to become a NYE favorite, one that the whole family can enjoy as a celebratory countdown (without sacrificing regular bedtimes). ABOUT OUR AUTHOR

Candice McMillan is the Seattle’s Child film critic and has covered film for more than a decade.

For a fuller list of holiday films, ch eck out “Great films for winter’s variety of holiday celebrations” on line at m


DECEMBER 1–23 • ALL-AGES! By Charles M. Schulz • Based on the television special by Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson • Stage Adaptation by Eric Schaeffer • By Special Arrangement with Arthur Whitelaw and Ruby Persson

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What every parent needs to have on hand

Tips for the ‘3 bug’ season All about RSV, COVID and flu by D R . S U S A N N A B L O C K

RSV is common but can cause serious illness RSV is a respiratory virus that causes cold-like symptoms including runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, coughing, moderate wheezing, decreased appetite, and sore throat. It’s common, in fact almost all children have had an RSV infection by the time they are two years old, and many older kids and adults get it too. Symptoms usually go away on their own in one or two weeks, but RSV infections can cause severe illness, hospitalizing about 58,000 to 80,000 children younger than five years old in the US every year. Last year, because there had been so little RSV during the pandemic, kids lacked natural protection and we had a severe RSV season with more children sick and hospitalized and even a shortage of emergency room beds. New RSV vaccine available In August, the CDC recommended that babies up to eight months old who are entering their first RSV season or are born during the season (typically fall through spring) should get the new injectable RSV drug. Some older infants between 8 and 19 months who are at increased risk of severe RSV disease and entering their second RSV season are also eligible. In a study of nearly 1,500 infants, this medicine, Nirsevimab (also called Beyfortus), lowered the risk of a respiratory illness caused by RSV that required a doctor’s visit



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by nearly 75% for at least five months. Side effects were mostly mild including a rash or redness at the injection site. The CDC is also looking at an RSV vaccine to be administered during pregnancy that will provide protection for newborns through six months. Note for older adults too — you can protect yourselves and your grandbabies with a new RSV vaccine for adults 60 and older. For those keeping count, Nirsevimab is not technically a vaccine. It’s a long-acting monoclonal antibody product. That mouthful means that instead of stimulating an immune response to develop antibodies, it is ‘passive immunization’ that delivers the antibodies directly.

The “3 Bug” Winter The CDC has already seen upticks in RSV in the south of the US and that usually indicates it’s headed this way. Flu and cold season shows up around now and Covid continues to infect many Americans, including kids. How do we stay safe and healthy? Wash your hands! I can’t say that one enough. Infectious diseases like these can be prevented with simple measures like washing hands (or using hand sanitizer if you can’t use water and soap), covering your cough or sneeze with an elbow, and keeping your child home when they feel sick. It’s also the right time to protect your

family with vaccines. The earlier in the season you get vaccinated, the more protection. Some vaccines can be given together, so talk with your pediatrician about the best timing for your family. RSV: This injection is for newborns and infants up to eight months old and for some infants and babies at increased risk of severe respiratory illness. Covid: The new bivalent booster has been approved by the FDA and will be available as soon as this month or early next month. It is expected to protect against severe disease and death from currently circulating variants. Children five years and older are eligible to receive the updated vaccine as a single dose (although it should be given at least two months after the last dose of any Covid-19 vaccine). Children ages six months to five years may need multiple doses to be up to date. Influenza: The flu shot is updated annually as the virus evolves every year, and is your best defense against the flu. Anyone six months or older can get the influenza vaccine. ABOUT OUR COLUMNIST

Dr. Susanna Block, MD, MPH, is a pediatrician with Kaiser Permanente in Seattle and lives with her family in Queen Anne. S P ON SORED BY


Sigh. It’s the time of year to prepare for the winter viral season — we know it’s coming. Rest assured that we have lots of tools in our toolbox to keep our families safe. This year, we’ll be coping with the flu, still coping with Covid-19, and are expecting another serious RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) season. The good news is, we have both the tried-andtrue methods and some new approaches for helping keep your family healthy and safe. The top news here is a new vaccine, approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), that can protect infants from RSV, a potentially severe respiratory infection.

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