Things To Do Over Winter Break

After weeks of dreaming about this joyous event, it has finally come. School is out and you are free for 16 glorious days.

Now what? Here are some activities to fill the hours after you have had your fill of sleeping:

  • Instead of making that New Year's resolution to go to the gym and work out, why not have fun and exercise at the same time? Organize a trip with your family or friends to Calaveras Big Trees State Park. Big Trees is located off Highway 4 beyond Arnold and is a great place to go hike and play in the snow.
  • Get a group of friends together and ring a bell for The Salvation Army. This is quite a fun activity that can do a lot of good. Call 538-7111 to sign up. There are flexible shifts in different locations available until Dec. 25.
  • Go see those movies you've been waiting for. "I am Legend" stars Will Smith as the last man on Earth and came out Dec. 14. Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter star in "Sweeny Todd," a creepy and grisly musical about a murderous, vengeful barber.
  • If you prefer the comforts of your own home (and would like to save your money), get your pajamas and blankets and settle into your couch for a movie marathon. Possible movies to rid your brain of all those biology facts and math formulas include "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth in the famous series; "Freedom Writers," a moving story starring Hilary Swank; and "Hairspray," a catchy musical set in Baltimore in the '60s.

  • If you wish every day was Halloween, create the December alternative. Go around your neighborhood and ask for nonperishable foods, then deliver your bounty to Modesto Gospel Mission or another area charity that provides food for the poor and homeless. If you want to get really organized, you can go around a few days before and stick notices in people's doors so that they will be ready for you. And, because you just did such a good deed, feel free to stop by the store on your way back and pick up some candy.
  • Everyone needs some plain old relaxing time. Whip up a mug of hot chocolate (extra marshmallows) and grab some holiday Oreos (because everyone knows that the colored frosting tastes so much better than the plain white stuff) and just bask in the glory of free time.
  • Sick of reading textbooks and Shakespeare? Check out these fun books from the library. "The Thief," by Megan Whalen Turner, is a must-read adventure full of laughs and a surprise ending. The main character in "Iron Man," by Chris Crutcher, struggles through his family problems and teacher difficulties with the help of his girlfriend, anger-management classmates and his drive to win a triathlon. Lastly, "Enchantress from the Stars," by Sylvia Louise Engdahl, is a sci-fi/fantasy book about a girl and her empire's attempts to save a planet from destruction.
  • Head over to the Queen Bean for a night of good food and music. E.A.R.L. and Kid Mudd, Modesto Area Music Association Award winners, are playing Dec. 29. Sean Fonda is playing Jan. 2. Both shows are at 7 p.m. To see other bookings, go to
  • Go on a bike ride to take in some fresh air. If you have a couple of hours, visit the bike path along Dry Creek, which runs next to Scenic Drive for a stretch. For a lengthier excursion, consider biking in and around Knights Ferry. Not only is the scenery beautiful but the destination includes restaurants where you can regain the calories you just burned off.Nora Cassidy is a junior at Modesto High School and a member of The Bee's Teens in the Newsroom journalism program. To comment, click on the link with this story at
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