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Holiday fun --- it's a gas 

Sure the holidays mean spending time with the family. But you can still have fun, too. With these low-cost events, you'll even be able to pay your fuel bills.

Metro Justice's Alternative Fair happens at the First Unitarian Church of Rochester, 220 South Winton Road, on Friday, December 2, 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Ever get depressed because no one buys you holiday gifts from Mann's Jewelers? At least there's hope for your kids. Show them what really matters, surrounded by hundreds of fair trade, earth friendly, and/or locally produced items. Many items priced under $3, so kids can shop, too. Tasty food and entertainment for all ages. Suggested donation $3, under 12 free, free childcare. Go to www.metrojustice.org or call 325-2560.

Anderson Alley Artists host a Holiday Gala on Friday, December 2, 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, December 3, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. You've encouraged your kids' creativity. You've taken them to galleries. Now kids --- and adults --- can meet working artists in their studios and see a variety of art offered for sale. Enjoy elegant refreshments and live music throughout the former shoe factory located at 250 North Goodman. It's like a trip to SoHo without the unpleasant expense. Free. Visit www.andersonalleyartists.com or call 473-0070.

Afraid your brain will explode if you hear one more cheesy holiday song? Seek sanctuary at Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Eireann's Irish music jam on Sunday, December 4, 4 to 6 p.m. at the American Hotel, corner of routes 15A and 5 & 20 in Lima. All ages will enjoy traditional Irish tunes in a relaxed atmosphere at this jam session, held the first Sunday of each month in one of the historic hotel's dining rooms. Hearty homemade soups and Guinness on tap, too. I'll take either one over a wassail bowl any day. Free. Info at www.irishrochester.org or call 244-3902.

Now more than ever, nothing blows the stink off like a road trip. East Aurora, south of Buffalo about 90 minutes away, has plenty of bang for the gas buck. Located on the Fisher-Price campus at 636 Girard Avenue, Toy Town Museum's exhibits include Good Grief, It's the Peanuts, and Feel the Power, a multi-dimensional Buffalo Bills exhibit. Open Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. Go to www.toytownusa.com or call 716-687-5151.

Also in East Aurora, Explore and More: A Children's Museum at 300 Gleed Avenue, has Culture Corner, a hands-on, realistic examination of life in South Africa, Vietnam, the Netherlands, and Mexico. Other exhibits, plus a kids' art room modeled after Van Gogh's studio. Open Wednesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 12 to 5 p.m., until 8 p.m. first Fridays. Admission $4, babies under one and WIC families free. Visit www.exploreandmore.org or call 716-655-5131. Don't miss Vidler's 5 & 10 store on historic Main Street, and the Roycroft Campus, a center for the Arts & Crafts Movement, founded by Elbert Hubbard in 1895.

The Original Art 2005, a traveling exhibition of original children's book illustrations sponsored by the Society of Illustrators, opens with a reception on Friday, December 9, from 5 to 7 p.m. at RIT's Bevier Gallery, in the James E. Booth Building. Should be easy to sell even if your kid's a reluctant reader. They all love the pictures. Gallery hours Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday 7 to 9 p.m., Saturday 1 to 4:30 p.m., Sunday 2 to 4:30 p.m. Closed December 24 through January 1. Free. Call 475-7680 or 475-2646 for info.

Kwanzaa Family Day at the Memorial Art Gallery, Thursday, December 29, 4 to 9 p.m., lets kids explore the African American cultural holiday through art activities, live music, and family tours. Proving once again culture is fun for everyone. Admission $1, children 5 and under free. Visit www.mag.rochester.edu or call 473-7720.

As Dickens reminds us in A Christmas Carol, sitting around a cold flat is not very festive. Enjoy these fun seasonal events that leave you with enough cash to keep the home fires burning.

See more of Linda's writing at www.junkstorecowgirl.com.

In This Guide...

    Holiday Guide 2005

    Time to light it up
    The order of the articles in this year's Holiday Guide doesn't necessarily reflect the order in which you should heed them. For example: You might want to start with Frank De Blase's guide to new, souped-up Christmas CDs just to set the soundtrack and get the eggnog pumping through your veins.

    Happy Sawzall-idays

    I felt it long before I ever saw it. Every day the house shook with a deep rumbling that made my ribs thud in my chest as workers tore off the back wall and roof for a kitchen bump-out.

    Soundtrack for the slaughter

    If you're like me, you hear anything with sleigh bells prior to Christmas Eve and cringe. And jumping the gun before the pumpkins are done rotting isn't my only peeve.

    Wishlist woes? Here, give 'em this.

    Only the heartiest among us can weather the holiday shopping season well. The barrage of catalogs, canned musical cheer, sale announcements, and store displays comes on so early and so hard that by the time you actually need presents, you're probably ready to saw off your own feet with a rusty cookie cutter rather than walk into a mall.

    Holiday Calendar 2005

    On stage The Capitol Steps Sat, Dec 31.

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