christmas

From the Texas Tribune

A "winter solstice" display by the Freedom From Religion Foundation has been ordered removed from the Texas Capitol after Gov. Greg Abbott called it a "juvenile parody." The display had been approved by the State Preservation Board, of which Abbott is chairman, after it was sponsored by state Rep. Donna Howard , D-Austin.

via flickr.com/wiredfornoise

As the holidays come to an end, it's likely that old tannenbaum might be looking a little tired. But t here are plenty of options to help put that old evergreen to use. This year, Austinites can drop off their Christmas tree between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the new location, 2304 Rollingwood Dr., Austin, TX, on the following days: Saturday, Jan. 3, 2015 Sunday, Jan. 4, 2015 Saturday, Jan. 10, 2015 Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015 The entire tree collection will be recycled into mulch and will be available...

Filipa Rodrigues, KUT

You’ve opened all the gifts and enjoyed a nice big meal. Now, you’re surrounded by mountains of wrapping paper and piles of disposable dinnerware. But don’t grab the trash bags just yet. Here are some tips for getting more of that waste into the recycling bin this holiday season. "Tissue paper is definitely recyclable," Austin Resource Recovery Director Bob Gedert says.

Filipa Rodrigues/KUT

Several Austinites gathered today for the unveiling of the first nativity scene at Texas State Capitol. Trey Trainor of the privately-funded group Texas Nativity Scene Project says it's the first on display in the state's history.

flickr.com/cheeseroc

There's a good chance that you'll be invited to an "Ugly Sweater" Christmas party this year. If you didn't save yours from the '80s, there's pop-up stores all over Texas meeting the demand. But is the ugly bubble about to burst? Today is the third annual National Ugly Christmas Sweater Day . The garish garments have been around since the 1950s, when they were originally considered (unironically) beautiful. Chevy Case help lead the kitschy sweater comeback in the '80s in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation .

Some critics — perhaps others would say Grinches? — don't like the North American Aerospace Defense Command's annual online "Santa Tracker." At WBUR , author Ethan Gilsdorf writes that "real-time digital imagery of Santa and his route, or calculations of the loot he's delivered, take the imagination out of Christmas." An advocacy group, the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood , is particularly critical of a promotional video NORAD produced that shows Santa being tracked by fighter jets...

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

With the Yuletide season in full swing, Austin turns into a wonderland of lights. This holiday season, KUT made the trek to the Trail of Lights to ask Austinites what makes the recently-revived light show a family tradition. Started in 1964 (and then known as “Yule Fest”), the Trail of Lights has seemingly grown in popularity each year. When it returned in 2012, after being cancelled from 2009 to 2011, the crowds did too: According to a press release, “The 2012 event drew an estimated 400,000...

Jan Gunter

Christmas is fast approaching and Santa’s elves are hard at work – not just at the North Pole, but here in Austin. For more than a century, the Salvation Army has been helping with Santa's mission. Back in the 1800s, the Salvation Army’s Christmas mission consisted of delivering food baskets to people who would otherwise go hungry. But by the 1970s, Austin Salvation Army Major Shannon Winters recalls, the group’s focus turned to toys for children in need. Its humble mission grew into a project that, in Winters’ words, now covers “six thousand children in Austin that are depending on us.”

flickr.com/davekellam

The holidays can be a difficult time of year for older people. Many live alone and are on fixed incomes. The local Home Instead Senior Care offices are encouraging Central Texans to “ Be a Santa to a Senior ” by purchasing gifts for area seniors in need. The group has identified more than 1,000 older people in the Austin area who could use a little holiday cheer . Many have lost a spouse or don’t have immediate family in the area.

youtube.com/user/listentoourlights

As of this writing, Korean pop smash “Gangnam Style” has over 840 million views on YouTube. Back in Austin, Christmas fanatic John Storms isn’t doing “Gangnam” numbers, but a video of his holiday light display synced to the song has racked up over 1.2 million views. There’s good reason, as it’s not just any light show: Storms spends hours each holiday season syncing seasonal favorites and pop hits alike to a 25,000-bulb light display adorning his house in Cedar Park. “We pick songs that we like,” Storms tells KUT News. Regarding “Gangnam Style,” he says “my kids came home singing this song that they did in P.E. to exercise to. We listened to it, and were like, ‘Wow, this is a lot of fun.’”

The Junior League of Austin

The Austin City Council has delayed a vote on approving a concert put on by the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) during the Formula One race weekend . The concert would need special approval because Auditorium Shores is already booked for the maximum number of event days for the year. But thats not the only conflict. The concert would be the same weekend as, and just across the street from, the Junior League of Austins A Christmas Affair. The decades-old shopping event is the Junior Leagues biggest fundraiser and planning for it starts two years in advance. Parking is already limited for the 30,000 or so anticipated attendees, and the Junior League believes adding another large event in the same area would be overwhelming.

Photo by Nathan Bernier, KUT News

In case you want to plan ahead for the holiday, heres a look at whats open and closed over the holiday break. Well add to this as we get more information. Garbage, recycling and yard trimming collection will proceed as scheduled. The citys Household Hazardous Waste Facility will be closed Saturday, December 24 and Saturday, December 31. Public libraries will be closed Friday, December 23 through Monday, December 26. Theyll also be closed New Years Day and Monday, January 2.

Map of Zilker Park
Image courtesy City of Austin

Starting today, Austin Solid Waste Services pay-as-you-throw customers can leave their trees on the curb for pickup. If you tree is 6-feet or taller, it must be cut in half. Everyone else can drop off their Christmas trees by the Polo Fields in Zilker Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the following days: Sunday, January 2 Saturday, January 8 Sunday, January 9 Saturday, January 15 Only residential customers allowed. Businesses can not drop off their Christmas trees at Zilker Park. Austin's Parks...

Santa Claus
Image courtesy Lady Dragonfly CC http://www.flickr.com/photos/ladydragonflyherworld/

Probably no surprise that the guy credited with distributing gifts to millions of kids is getting more tech savvy. Here are some ways to track Santa's flight path on the WWW. The official NORAD Santa Tracker is going mobile. Not only can you follow Saint Nick's path on their website , but you can also follow his progress on your cell phone by visiting noradsanta.org or doing a search for "Santa" on your smartphone's Google Maps app . Speaking of smartphones, there are several Santa tracking...

Zilker Tree
Image courtesy jmtimages http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmtimages/

In case you haven't been able to explore all the Christmas lights in Austin, here are some YouTube videos of local light displays from this year. Should you feel inspired, you can follow this map to see more great light displays in person. Round Rock resident John Storms has received a lot of attention for his LED display that is synced to music. It was featured nationally on Good Morning America and Storms was interviewed locally on Fox 7 . Here are some of his sequences.

The city had to cancel the Trail of Lights this year because of budget cuts, but there is another event going on in its place. It's not quite the Trail of Lights, but it is bright, it's holiday-themed, and it's next to the Zilker Tree. Flipped ON Christmas runs through December 23 rd . It's an "extraordinary, world-class, light and sound experience that's being produced by Austinites," according to spokesperson Jennifer Hill Robenalt. "It's a combination of an amazing array of lights in an...

Austin's bustling non-profit community is brimming with need over the holidays. There's no way we can mention them all, but here are four charities that could use your help. Please add your favorite non-profit to support in the comments section below. 1. Donate your ill-performing financial stocks : Maybe you're totally disappointed those H&R Block shares are down almost 40 percent for the year, so let Caritas take them off your hands. Caritas is a local charity founded...

On Santa's lap
Image courtesy Joe Shlabotnik http://www.flickr.com/photos/joeshlabotnik/

If you want a picture of your kid with Santa but can't brave the mall before catching a flight out of town, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has got you covered. ABIA is hosting Santa at the airport at various times throughout the day from December 17 th until the 20 th . He'll be behind security, so you'll have to be a ticketed passenger. There is no cost to having your picture taken, but you'll probably have to look at Southwest Airline's logo, as they're sponsoring the event. This is...

John Aielli singing carols in 2009
Image courtesy jmtimages http://www.flickr.com/photos/jmtimages/

KUT's annual Christmas sing-along is scheduled for this Saturday on the South Steps of the Capitol building . We asked the host of the affair, Eklektikos' John Aielli , to tell us what to expect and why we should join him. (By the way, that's a Diet Coke in his coozie, not a Coors Light.)