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’Tis the Season To Be in Boston

Christmas Eve at Marsh Chapel and a celebration at Harper’s Ferry

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Ornaments decorate the Christmas tree in the Hotel Commonwealth. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Grab some eggnog and get ready to open presents, but there’s life before, during, and after Santa’s arrival. Boston has scores of ways to celebrate time off; here are some recommendations.

As it comes down to the wire, there’s still time to head to the Downtown Crossing Holiday Market. The market is the brainchild of Mayor Thomas Menino (Hon.’01), who is making an effort to bring more foot traffic to Downtown Crossing, which has struggled given the recession and the loss of retail anchor Filene’s Basement. The market will include jewelry, crafts, food, and other holiday gifts.

The Downtown Crossing Holiday Market, on Summer Street between Washington and Hawley, is open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on December 23, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on December 24. Live performances take place from noon to 2 p.m. on both days, and 5 to 7 p.m. on December 23.

At 11 a.m. on Christmas Eve morning, get in those last-minute requests with a live chat with Santa on Boston.com.

On campus, Marsh Chapel offers the perfect mood and setting for ushering in a holy day with a Candlelight Christmas Eve Service. Organist Justin Blackwell will provide the music, and Rev. Robert Hill, dean of Marsh Chapel, will deliver his Christmas sermon, titled Two Christmas Memories.

Marsh Chapel is at 735 Commonwealth Ave. The service begins at 7:30 p.m. on December 24, and the event is free and open to the public.

The day after Christmas, stow the presents, drink a strong cup of coffee, and take advantage of free parking in Boston. Explore Beacon Hill and check out some unusual nooks and crannies. For example, there’s the Harrison Gray Otis House, home of past Boston mayor and Beacon Hill developer Harrison Gray Otis. The house, on the National Historic Registry, was built in 1796 by Charles Bulfinch, who also designed the Massachusetts State House. Also stop by the Museum of African American History for the exhibition Let Your Motto Be Your Resistance. The exhibition of African American portraits was selected from the National Portrait Gallery and features 70 photographs of notable black Americans over the last 150 years. The exhibition runs through January 10, 2010.

The Otis House, 141 Cambridge St., is open from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tours are on the hour and the half hour. Tickets are $8, but Boston residents are admitted free.

The Museum of African American History is at 46 Joy St., in Beacon Hill. It is open Monday through Saturday (except Christmas), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The suggested donation is $5.

That evening, shake off the last vestiges of solemnity by heading to Harper’s Ferry for the 18-plus show ’Twas the Night After XMas Part 4, with Los Wunder Twins Del Rap, Rest Assured, Wiz AKA Samuel Adams, and Exposition.

Harper’s Ferry is at 158 Brighton Ave., Allston. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door.

And for the day after the day after Christmas? What better way to celebrate than by traveling to another planet? Get your real self into a real seat to see the new movie Avatar in 3-D at Regal Fenway 13.

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

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