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Written by:  Odile Fredericks
Date: December 7, 2011

Are you feeling the pinch of the recession this holiday season? So are kids. They're downsizing their wish lists to Santa, according to the Associated Press, which says these days children are asking Santa for a job for mom or dad or heating for their home.

But good can emerge from hardship, and parents seem to be spearheading that positive outlook and helping their kids focus on what's really important in life. Despite their tough times, families are teaching their children to be as much of a giver as a receiver, according to the dean of the Michigan-based Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, the AP reports. The school, which just graduated its 75th class, has its pulse on requests to the North Pole as it receives more than 3,000 letters to Santa a year. In North Carolina, a second grader's only wish to Santa was for her father, an Air Force contractor who was in Iraq for most of the past 2 years, to come home. He surprised her by showing up at her school dressed as Santa, WRAL reports.

If you're looking for a way to give back to the community and help others, check our list of volunteer and community service opportunities for Triangle families, teens and older youth. Stepping outside of your family to lend a hand to those in need often brings its own gifts. Families who volunteer can grow closer to each other, more appreciative of what they already have and learn from those who have less.

If you're having to deal with having less money this holiday, be aware that many holiday events around the Triangle are free. Take a look at what's coming up:

  • Holly Springs' annual Main Street Christmas takes place Dec. 9 from 6-8 p.m., featuring  feature carolers, hayrides, entertainment, a live nativity, hot chocolate and cookies. Mrs. Claus reads stories at the Holly Springs Cultural Center. Santa visits with children at Holly Springs Town Hall before riding to the Holly Springs Cultural Center to light the town's tree at 8 p.m. The town hosts the Happy Hollydays Christmas Parade on Main Street Dec. 10 at 11 a.m. Visit for more information.
  • In downtown Wake Forest, enjoy a Christmas parade, complete with dancing elves, decorated floats and classic cars on Dec. 10 at 1 p.m. Visit to learn more.
  • Clayton's annual Christmas parade takes place on Main Street Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. Learn more at
  • The Chapel Hill-Carrboro holiday parade on Dec. 10 features marching bands, themed floats, Kris Kringle and more. The parade begins at 10 a.m. at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center on Franklin Street, and ends at Carrboro Town Hall. Learn more at
  • Cary's 17th Annual Kwanzaa celebration, showcasing music and dance performances, kids activities and a community market, takes place Dec. 29 at 5 p.m. at the Cary Arts Center. Visit the Town of Cary's website to learn more.

Looking for more holiday fun? Visit our Winter Holiday Guide.


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