Northshore Magazine

Northshore December 2018

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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Page 35 of 147

NORTHSHOREMAG.COM 34 DECEMBER 2018 blend. He also notes that the Wine ConneXtion has weekly tasting events each Saturday, and "Santa's Little Helpers" are in the store, ready to help shoppers select the perfect wine from their wide selection, including delicious budget wines and special-order hard-to-find or vintage bottles. North Andover's generous spirit has been on full display since mid-September, but an annual holiday event has tapped into that spirit for the past 29 years: the North Andover Youth Center's holiday toy drive. "e need is so great for so many children," says Molly Malandrino, a high school guidance counselor and North Andover native who's been the holiday toy drive coordinator for many years. e toy drive matches sponsors with families who need help with their holiday gift giving. Sponsors—who might be individuals or local businesses—buy and wrap specific items on children's wish lists. Malandrino says last year's toy drive included about 90 sponsors and served 110 families, including many families with multiple children. She adds that the gas disaster compounds the need, noting that it's "impacted so many students and their families in many ways that we may have not thought of." Even though she's been part of the toy drive for many years, Malandrino continues to be amazed and moved by the generosity of her community. "I think a lot of people who live in North Andover are in the position to be really generous, and they are really giving," she says. "We really notice that the commu- nity has been willing to give, no matter how big or how small. We want our sponsors and our families to know that this came from within their own community." For those in the mood for some straight-up holiday celebrating, North Andover has plenty of that, too. At Smolak Farms, visitors can take home a Christmas tree, decorate cookies and ornaments, make crafts, and have story time with Mrs. Claus throughout the entire month of December. "e farm is special at this time of the year because in these times of turmoil, people come here to return to basic values of home, family, civility, respect, and being part of a community," says owner Michael Smolak. "ere is nothing more gratifying than to see a child talking with Santa and Mrs. Claus with absolute delight on their face…[and] the look on parents' and grandparents' faces as they watch all the magic that Christmas brings." Families and friends can also come together over gingerbread house decorating at Taste Buds Kitchen, which offers gingerbread house building and decorating workshops for kids and adults throughout the month of December. Daytime kids' events give partici- pants everything they need to decorate their gingerbread house, including the fully assembled house itself. For adults, evening BYOB workshops allow participants to build as well as decorate their houses. "e kitchen really transforms at Christ- mas time," says owner Laurel Holmes, who describes a space filled with decorations and lights, the sweet-spicy smell of gingerbread, North Andover has a rich history. You can catch a glimpse at the North Andover Historical Society. / F A C E S + P L A C E S / and a giant Christmas tree decorated with rolling pins. "It's magical," she says. ere's also plenty to explore outside, including more than 1,000 acres of space at places like Weir Hill and Ward Reservation, managed by e Trustees of Reservations. e Trustees also manages North Andover's Stevens-Coolidge Place, which plays host this December to Winterlights, a light installation and event series that transforms the estate's gardens into a glittering winter wonderland. "North Andover is a great community, and there is so much open space," says Kevin Block, stewardship manager of the Andover/North Andover management unit for e Trustees. "ey really focus on keeping open land and conservation land, but also really allowing that land to be enjoyed by the public." PHOTOGRAPHS BY SCOTT MURRY

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