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Family valued 12.1.04

Everything old is new again

The package, wrapped in white tissue paper with pictures from a magazine pasted on the top, arrived for my fourth birthday. The gift was a used book, a gilded-edged version of Collodi's Pinocchio. Many of its pages were dog-eared from frequent use, but it didn't matter. It was mine. Tucked inside my newest treasure was a handmade bookmark from my father. Sporting a quote from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, it read, "It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own." The used condition was irrelevant. Though the book is long gone, I still have the bookmark to remind me of the gift and to remember that any unread book is a new book.

I work in a library where I have access to thousands of titles. Yet there is something in human nature that weakens me when introduced to a room full of used books. The texture of the paper, the brilliant illustrations, the unique and intriguing titles. Perhaps you feel the same? If so, you'll want to mark your calendars for December 8-12 when the downtown Central Library will hold its annual Holiday Fiction Book Sale. It's the perfect opportunity to treat yourself to a "new" book. If your twice-given purchase is for a friend, just wrap it in tissue paper with a bookmark and lovingly offer it. I hear that a chocolate bar wrapped in ribbon is also a nice package ornament.

--- Carolyn Schuler

This week for families:

Breakfast with Santa Sat-Sun, Dec 4-12. Seneca Park Zoo, 2222 St Paul St., 8:30 and 9:45 a.m. $12, $8 kids. 336,7200, www.senecazoo.org.

Brighton Memorial Library 2300 Elmwood Ave. Thursdays, family storytimes, 7 p.m. | 784-5300, www.brightonlibrary.org

Card Creations Sat, Dec 4. Making holiday cards, ages 7-12, Schweinfurth Memorial Art Center, 205 Genesee St, Auburn, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. $12. 315-255-1553

Children's Christmas Party Fri, Dec 3. Ages 4-11, Ontario County Historical Society, 55 N Main St, Canandaigua, 4:30-6 p.m. $4. 394-4975, www.ochs.org

Christmas at Tinker Nature Park Sat-Sun, Dec 4-5. Kris Kringle visit, crafts, tour, book fair, 1525 Calkins Rd, Henrietta, 12-3 p.m. 359-7044

Community Movie Night Fri, Dec 3. Christmas PG movie, all ages, German House, 315 Gregory St, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Free. 339-8590

Daytime Night Hike Mon, Dec 6. Grades 4-6, Helmer Nature Center, 154 Pinegrove Ave, Irondequoit, 4-6:30 p.m. $9. 336-3035

Double Dutch 41 Backus St. Double Dutch, ages 6-12, Wednesdays 2:45-3:30 p.m., #30 School Gymnasium, 36 Otis St. Register, 428-7860

Genesee Valley Park Ice Rink 131 Elmwood Ave. All ages open skate, Mon-Thurs 12-1:15 p.m., Fri 12-1:15 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.-12 a.m., Sat 9 p.m.-10:15 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.-12 a.m., Sun 2-3:15 p.m.; Skate & Shoot (helmets required) Mon-Fri 1:30-2:45 p.m., ages 13 and up, times subject to change. $2-$4 428-7889

Henrietta Public Library 455 Calkins Rd. Tuesdays 11 a.m. and Wednesdays 10:15 a.m., preschool storytimes, ages 3-4. | Pre-register. 359-7092, TDD 321-1499, www.hpl.org

Seneca Park Zoo 2222 St Paul St. Sat-Sun, Dec 4-5, breakfast with Santa, 8:30 and 9:45 a.m. $12, $8 kids. | Tues, Dec 7, ZooDiscovery class, ages 3-4, 10:15 or 11:30 a.m. $18. | Wed, Dec 8, family fun night, 6-8 p.m. $8.75. 336-7213 | Sat, Dec 4, Parent's Day Out, craft, games, snack, movie, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $30. | Wednesdays, Book and Beast, 11 a.m. | Hours: daily 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tix: $5, $4 seniors, $2 kids. 467-9453, www.senecazoo.org

Strong Museum 1 Manhattan Square. Arthur's World, through Jan 23. Sat-Sun, Dec 4-5, Arthur appearance, 12-4 p.m. | Wed, Dec 8, Wednesdays for tots, 9:30 a.m. $7, $5 kids. | Long-term exhibits include National Toy Hall of Fame, Can You Tell Me How To Get To Sesame Street? and Super Kids Market. Hours: Mon-Thurs 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Fri 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun 12-5 p.m. Tix: $7; $6 seniors, students; $5 children. 263-2700

The Wonderful World of Snowmen Sat, Dec 4. Crafts, snacks, ages 4-8, GO ART! Cultural Center, 201 E Main St, Batavia, 11 a.m. $5. 343-9313, www.goart.org

Holiday gift budget therapy

Holiday budget. What an oxymoron! How can you get into the holiday spirit while you're consulting a spreadsheet? Unless you're Bob Wegman, that is.

When it comes to budgeting for their kids' gifts, most people wing it. I always have. Unfortunately, my kids' college savings accounts reflect this fact. Here are some tips to help you avoid the same mistake.

Little kids, age 5 and under. Suggested budget: $15 each. Why buy actual gifts? They just want the boxes anyway. Head down to the Boxman store on East Avenue and grab a wardrobe box for $11.95. Pad their college savings accounts now before they start bleeding you dry with frivolities like orthodontic treatment. It's a win-win situation.

Medium-sized kids, ages 6 to 12. Suggested budget: inversely proportional to the number of relatives available to pick up the slack. This works especially well with out-of-town grandparents. Sure, it's a little mercenary, but I'm speaking as a battle-hardened veteran. If you want to live in utopia, don't have kids. Get yourself a few cats and call it a life.

Older kids, ages 13 to 18. Suggested budget: based upon need. As in your need to have them move out someday. Is this a kid you can motivate with material gain or will he be living in your basement for the next 25 years if the golden goose keeps pumping out eggs?

Remember, your time is the best gift you can give your kids. Just don't spend it slaving over a spreadsheet.

--- Linda Kostin (www.junkstorecowgirl.com)