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Empathy and imagination light the way 

     The perfect gift? Satisfying that standard is too heavy a burden to bear any time of the year, especially in this season dedicated to rekindling hope, faith and charity. The right gift will do just fine — if only I can find it. Actually, them — for it’s several people for whom I’m still seeking good matches.       Helping us all make good matches in these waning days of the season of gift seeking is our mission in this week’s paper.

’Tis the season for owls

     Santa’s not the only flyer of the December night skies. ‘Tis also the season for owls.      Most owls are hard to see, so we usually only hear them. But once the leaves fall, it’s a little easier to catch a glimpse of these secretive night hunters. 

Break, don’t prune the branches

     Make attractive, long-lasting holiday decorations from boxwood and you’ll be keeping your plants both healthy and good-looking.      The woody European native here since the mid-17th century is best pruned when near-freezing temperatures make the boxwood branches very brittle.

The force fully awakens in the space adventure we deserve

     Former stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega: Detroit) wakes from his coma to finds things looking dire in a galaxy far, far away.       Better financed and armed, the evil First Order is crushing the rebellion led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, in her final role). The rebels’ last fighters flee across the universe with the First Order hot on their heels.

The grand classic turns intimate 

      Fiddler on the Roof, which hit Broadway in 1964, set longevity records, won nine Tony Awards and has been performed thousands of times by high school and community theaters across the country. It’s usually a big musical with big casts. This month, Compass Rose Theater gives Tevye and his family a more intimate treatment that, in the hands of director Lucinda Merry-Browne, gives us a nice new perspective.
Full Circle on Missing Birds      I cannot believe the various responses regarding the plight of our birds. We still have a lack of participation, even with the woodpeckers. The squirrels are loving life. Thinking about roadkill to attract the eagles.      Thanks Bay Weekly for providing this forum –Mike Stewart, Deale  

Open horizons and swans to unite us

     If Bay Weekly were a three-ring circus, you’d find swans in every ring. For that, there’s good reason.      This week’s paper, our first in December, marks the arrival of meteorological winter. Here in Chesapeake Country, it’s not the serious winter already chilling our northern-tier neighbors. As I write, it’s –2 degrees in Crosby, North Dakota, right up on the Canadian border.

Buy fresh evergreens and treat them for longevity 

     Wreaths, roping and swags sold in box and grocery stores may have been made in far-away Oregon and Maine, starting back in September, then stored in large coolers under high humidity. If the greens were harvested before the plants were exposed to freezing temperatures, they may well drop their needles before Christmas.       Purchase local Christmas greens, on the other hand, and they are most likely freshly harvested and have acclimated under our growing conditions.

This engrossing dramedy makes art from catastrophe

     Greg Sestero (Dave Franco: The Little Hours) is an actor seeking the courage to perform. A ball of nerves in his San Francisco acting classes, he finds inspiration in mysterious and fearless classmate Tommy Wiseau (James ­Franco: The Vault).
Turn on the lights. Bring in the tree. Rejoice in pageantry. 
     “There’s a big beautiful tree all lit up in the Smiths’ window.” That was the news my husband brought in with newspapers and coffee this morning. After seeing the neighbors’ tree in the late predawn, he was about to haul in ours, now soaking up water as the Bay Gardener directs in this week’s column.       “Don’t you think it’s a little early?” I asked. “It is still November.”