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BY BRIDGET BALCH
SO IT'S YOUR turn to host the family's Thanksgiving get-together this year.
You've spent weeks cleaning and decorating and days slaving over the hot stove. In just a few hours, the entire clan will be full of turkey and pie.
But what now?
After the dishes are done, the leftovers are put away and the food comas have subsided, how will you keep your restless relatives from tearing apart the house--and each other?
Here are some excuses to get everyone out of the house for a few hours.
COME OUT AND PLAY
Nothing can take your mind off all the cleaning that still has to be done better than going to see a show.
The Fredericksburg Christian Youth Theater will present "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," based on the animated children's favorite, at Spotsylvania High School the weekend of Nov. 23-25.
For show times and tickets, go to cytfredericksburg.org.
Can't wait another day to start getting into the Christmas spirit? The production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" at Ford's Theatre's is well worth the hour drive into Washington.
This holiday staple, onstage through Dec. 30, will be performed at 2 and 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 23-25. For more information and to buy tickets, visit fords.org.
If a full-length play isn't quite what you're looking for, a comedy show might be just the thing to break the tension of family togetherness.
Comedy at the Courtyard will host veteran comedian Rob Maher from DC Improv and Sara Armour on Saturday, Nov. 24, at 8 p.m. at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown Fredericksburg.
As the flier for the show suggests, "bring the in-laws, show them what your real laugh sounds like," but find the kids a baby sitter, since this adult show is not suitable for ears under 18.
According to Rahmein Mostafavi, a local comedian and producer of Cool Cow Comedy, this show will provide "the same quality you would get in any comedy club in D.C."
Tickets for the show are $15. For information on discounts and to buy tickets, go to shop.coolcowcomedy.com. There is an option of having dinner before the show for an additional $20.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
After several hours in an overcrowded, overheated house, a bit of fresh air might be in order.
Sunken Road, the site of the bloody Battle of Fredericksburg, is a significant landmark in the area's history.
There will be free guided walking tours Nov. 23-25. For more information, call 540/373-6122.
At the Chancellorsville Battlefield, where Confederate Gen. "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded by friendly fire, free guided walking tours will be held Nov. 23-24. Call 540/786-2880 for tour times.
The tours begin at the Chancellorsville Battlefield Visitor Center at 9001 Plank Road in Spotsylvania.
For more historic outdoor options, visit nps.gov/frsp.
There's no place like downtown Fredericksburg to ring in the Christmas season.
The annual tree lighting will take place Friday at Hurkamp Park at 6 p.m. Festivities will include entertainment from Patrick A'Hearn, a former Broadway singer and current associate artistic director at Riverside Center Dinner Theatre, and a visit from Santa Claus.
Santa will also mingle with downtown shoppers Nov. 24-25 from noon to 2 p.m., and will be available for pictures free of charge at the Richard Johnston Inn, 528 Caroline St., 2:30-4:30 p.m.
You've spent enough time showing your relatives around George Washington's boyhood home here near Fredericksburg. Now maybe it's time to explore the home he built for himself and his family.
Mount Vernon in Alexandria decks its halls in true 18th-century fashion for Mount Vernon by Candlelight.
It's hosted by "Mrs. Martha Washington" herself. Guests of the Washingtons are invited to enjoy live music, period dance lessons, festive decorations and tours of the magnificent house and grounds.
"Visitors will leave in a festive mood," said Melissa Wood, media relations manager for Mount Vernon.
Tours are offered throughout the evenings of Nov. 23-25.
Tickets are $22 for adults and $15 for children, and are available online at mountver
LEND A HELPING HAND
Give more than just thanks this Thanksgiving weekend.
As you go about your Black Friday shopping, remember those who can't afford to camp out all night for a $100 flat-screen TV.
Pick up a toy to donate to Toys for Tots and drop it off at the Toys R Us in Central Park, or find another drop-off location at quantico-va.toysfortots.org.
Also, if you're feeling particularly generous, pay off a community member's layaway balance at your local Toys R Us, and the store will donate $200 worth of toys to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.
Bridget Balch: 540/374-5444