FOR MORE than 40 years, the folks at the Arundel Improvement Association have had a special arrangement with the North Pole. If they could arrange for enough elves to assist, Santa Claus would make a private visit to the homes of children in the community to hear their Christmas wishes.
When I was growing up in the community, this was the event of the year. Every year, my sister and brother and I would listen for the sounds of holiday music that would mean he was in the neighborhood.
With a cheery "ho, ho, ho," he would bound up the steps, ask us and our parents whether we had been good, listen to our wishes, and hand each of us a stocking and an orange. We knew that Santa Claus would do his best to make a delivery on Christmas morning.
I'm willing to bet that families in the community have enough home movies of these visits to offer a marathon showing at a local theater.
As the years went by and there were no longer children in the house, I would still listen for the music and know that a child somewhere in the neighborhood was experiencing a home visit from the great man himself.
This year, alas, things will be different. Try as they did, the good people of the Arundel Improvement Association couldn't find enough elves and Santa Claus will not be making home visits. A wonderful tradition seems to have come to an untimely end.
The association has arranged, however, for him to attend a children's Christmas party from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. today at the AIA Hall, 705 Cross St. between the Arundel Village and Roland Terrace communities. I'm sure Santa Claus will remember to bring the stockings and oranges.
Bring the kids and let the AIA know you appreciate all the hard work its members do on behalf of the community. Information: 410-789-2192.
Book 'em in Brooklyn Park
In October, Brooklyn Park Elementary School started participating in the Book-It Reading Incentive Program. The faculty encouraged pupils to read every night for 20 nights and at the end of the month bring to class a list of what they have read.
At the end of the month, pupils from kindergarten through sixth grade had reported reading 2,631 books.
Reading teacher Kathy Fieldhouse said: "I was completely floored. I heard on a news report that another school had pledged to read 2,000 by the year 2000, and here we read more than that in one month," she said.
In November, pupils read even more -- 2,687 books. Fieldhouse said she wasn't sure, going into the month, that the students could top October's totals. "October was the kickoff, but we had a book fair in November and the students were motivated to read what they saw at the book fair," she said.
Moreover, the pupils in the upper grades continued to read at a good pace.
"Students in the upper grades get involved in other things -- sports, dance class and karate class -- while the younger students still have their parents reading with them at night.
"But the upper students kept pace. They really proved that they could fit reading into their busy lives. This is how the lifelong habit of reading is developed. I am really proud of them," Fieldhouse said.
Breakfast with Santa Claus
St. John United Methodist Church will sponsor a breakfast with Santa Claus from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Lloyd Keaser Center. Tickets are $3 for adults and $2 for children ages 3 to 12.
Children can visit "The Workshop," where low-cost gifts will be available to purchase. There will also be face painting, pictures with Santa and free gift-wrapping. The menu will include eggs, silver dollar pancakes, grits, bacon, sausage links, coffee, tea and orange juice.
The center is at 5757 Belle Grove Road. Information: Angela Ward, 410-789-0053.
Make an ornament
The staff of the Brooklyn branch of the Enoch Pratt Free Library has extended an invitation for an afternoon of family holiday craft-making at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Participants can make Christmas tree ornaments.
The Brooklyn library is at 300 E. Patapsco Ave. Information: 410- 396-1120.