Rings of frozen cranberries and ornaments of seeds and peanut butter were being hung with care on a small evergreen tree, but the holiday being celebrated didn’t involve Santa Claus.
Instead, the group of about 20 children and their parents were at The Arboretum on Alumni Drive on Sunday to learn about Tuesday’s winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in terms of daylight.
Coordinator Emma Trester-Wilson explained to the kids, ranging in age from about 2 to 10, that birds will eat the decorations.
“The birds don’t have as much food in the winter, and fat has the most calories that birds can eat, so this is going to keep our birds warm all year long,” Trester-Wilson said.
Other activities included making binoculars from string and cardboard tubes, and tracing shadows in chalk to learn how the sun changes them as the day goes on.
Outside, 3-year-old Anika started to trace her father, Ketu Vagdiya, in chalk before the novelty wore off.
“Papa, this is you,” Anika said, pointing to the drawing, which was mostly his head and shoulders. “This is your balloon.”
Vagdiya said his daughters love nature. He pointed to a group of large tree stumps yards away that they love to play on, especially during the summer.
“The Arboretum is a fabulous place,” he said.
Nearby, Lisa Conley was tracing the shadow of 7-year-old Abigail.
Conley said she’s been Abigail’s Big Sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program for about a month.
“It’s something seasonal and something outdoors with some fun learning opportunities,” Conley said of the event.
She said the pair go out together every week. Abigail’s favority outing was watching a ballet performance of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.
“There’s this other place I want to go,” Abigail said, telling Conley about an wooded area featuring “the Pilgrims and these people that lived there before” with houses and “brick walls that crashed down.”
“We still have a lot of adventures left to do, don’t we?” Conley said.