"The Nutcracker" Dec. 1-22

Dance Prism announces its 31st season of "The Nutcracker," with performances in Fall River, Littleton, Worcester and Andover from Dec. 1 to 22. Its production of the beloved tale of a child's fantasy features lively choreography, Tchaikovsky's exquisite score, and the traditional delights of the holiday classic.

Featured in the central role of Clara in this season's production is Rachel Swansburg, 16, of Groton. She has trained principally with L'Ecole de Ballet in Littleton as well as Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet, and has appeared in children's and later young adult roles with the company since early childhood. Recently she has danced demi-soloist and soloist roles, including that of Four Cygnets in Swan Lake.

The performance follows Clara's magical journey from a traditional 19th century Christmas party through a fantastic battle of toy soldiers and giant mice and a voyage through the ethereal kingdom of Snow, arriving finally at the Land of the Sugarplum Fairy where sweets from all lands come to life and dance in her honor.

Tickets are priced at $18 for children and seniors, $24 for adults; generous group discounts are offered. Seating is reserved; handicapped seating is available and easily accessible. Tickets are available online at www.danceprism.com or at 978-371-1038.

Worship services

Christmas Candlelight Worship

All are welcome to Christmas Eve worship at Union Congregational Church in Groton. At 5 p.m., Family Worship, geared especially to the young, will include a dramatic reading of the Christmas Story as well as children's choirs, a sermon and passing of the candlelight. At 7 p.m., a traditional service, more for adults and teens, will include Lessons and Carols, the full Christmas story, lots of music, a sermon and the passing of the light. Refreshments will be served from 6-7 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall. UCC is located at 218 Main St. at Willowdale (near Filho's Cucina). For information, visit www.uccgroton.org or call the church office at 978-448-2091.

Shepherd of the Valley Mid-week Advent Services

SOV will have a special three part Advent series on Wednesday nights in December. Please consider joining us at 7 p.m. for this dedicated time of prayer and preparation as we contemplate the Advent of our Lord.

Our pastor, the Rev. Giuseppe Mattei, will offer a brief reflection on the theme of each week in addition to prayers and Advent hymns.

Shepherd of the Valley services are held at the Grange, 80 Champney St. in Groton.

FRIDAY, DEC. 13

Sacred Circle Dance: First Church Unitarian in Littleton. Join us for dances to bring peace, healing and wholeness to our local and global communities, and we will also have some fun. This is a community dance experience that enhances mind-spirit-body awareness. No experience is needed. No partners are needed; dance with the circle. Join us for Community Circle (easier dances) from 7-9 p.m., with more challenging dances for experienced dancers at 6 p.m. Please bring your water bottle and a willing spirit. For information email Circle@fculittle.org. First Church Unitarian is located at 19 Foster St. in Littleton. Please visit our website at www.fculittle.org.

SATURDAY, DEC. 14

Wreaths Across America ceremony: 10 a.m., Fort Devens Cemetery, Patton Road Devens. This year, 173 wreaths were donated and will be placed in the cemetery. This is a 247 percent increase over the wreaths donated last year. The mission of Wreaths Across America is to remember, honor and teach about the service and sacrifices of our veterans, active military and their families. We will Never Forget. -- LTC Steven F. Egan

Outdoor Living Nativity: Townsend Congregational Church. Please join us at 4 p.m. on the lawn behind the church for an outdoor Christmas pageant with live animals, put on by TCC Sunday School! It will be chilly, so bundle up and after the show come inside our hall to warm up with hot drinks, soup, desserts and good cheer. The Church is at 3 Brookline St., Townsend.

Today in Ayer: noon to 6 p.m.

* Hayrides with Santa, noon to 3 p.m.

* Christmas Concert sing-along, 2 p.m.

* Downtown Holiday Stroll, 6 p.m.

Sponsored by the Ayer Business Alliance.

Stand-up chameleon comes to Fruitlands Museum: 1-2 p.m., 102 Prospect Hill Road, Harvard. Storyteller Jckson Gillman. For reservation, call 978-456-3924, ext. 291.

SUNDAY, DEC. 15

Breakfast: 8-11 a.m., Ayer Sportsman's Club, 255 Snake Hill Road, Ayer. Public welcome. French toast, specials, pancakes, eggs, free juice and coffee. Proceeds benefit children's programs. Room rentals also available. Call 978-772-9748.

Christmas Bird Count in HARVARD, AYER, AND SHIRLEY: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Starting point: The refuge's main parking lot at the end of Still River Depot Road in Harvard. If you are an experienced birder, join Friends of the Oxbow NWR for a day of birding as part of the 114th National Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The CBC is citizen science at its best throughout North, Central and South America. Every year groups of observers search a given area trying to find as many species and number of birds as possible. Dress for cold adverse weather and bring binoculars, lunch/drink. For information and to RSVP contact Rona at 978-779-2259 or Don MacFarlane at 978-897-7567.

Tuba Christmas: 1 p.m., Ayer Town Hall. An entire band of tuba players. If you have never been to this, you are in for a real treat, sponsored by the Ayer Business Alliance.

The Nashua Flute Choir: Please come help us celebrate our 30th anniversary 2013-2014 Concert Season at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 7 Faulkner St., Ayer, at 7 p.m. Donation: Adults, $15; Senior/Students, $10; Children, $5; Families, $25. Our group provides wonderful mental therapy, musical challenges and most of all, lots of fun for us all.

TUESDAY, DEC. 17

Job Seekers Networking Group: 9:30 a.m., Leominster Public Library. Tom McDonough and Deborah Burkholder, career coaches from Appia Career Coaching (www.getAppia.com), will discuss the basics of building a solid résumé, current trends and how to strategically and dynamically repurpose your content. Bring your résumé and your questions to "Résumé Basics and Beyond." The Leominster Job Seekers Networking Group meets most Tuesday mornings from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Leominster Public Library. The group provides networking opportunities and support for job seekers. Group meetings are open to the public and all are welcome.

"Carrying On" for suicide survivors: The next meeting of the support group "Carrying On" will be held from 7-9 p.m. in the Great Room of the Parish House of First Parish Unitarian Church on Powder House Row in Groton. Anyone who has survived the loss of a loved one to suicide is welcome to attend this meeting. "Carrying On" was formed in the spring of 2010 as a peer led support group for people who had lost a loved one through suicide. We strive to provide a safe place to talk about those we have lost and to provide a supportive environment to help each other heal. Refreshments are served. Anyone with an interest in the subject matter is welcome. For any additional information call Steve or Deb Boczenowski at 978-448-5013.

WEDNESDAY, DEC. 18

Holiday dinner meeting of the Appleseed Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals: 6 p.m. at Barber's Crossing North, 175 Leominster Road, Sterling. Please bring a $15 kitchen-themed gift for the Yankee Swap. For information, contact Amy Ives at iaapappleseed@msn.com.

SATURDAY, DEC. 21

Tour New England Studios: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., 100 Studio Way, Devens. Support a local charity and see where the movies are made. We encourage families to take a studio tour and make it a special holiday event. All we ask for is one canned good, for donation to local food pantries, and a small toy, for the Toys for Tots program. For information contact Frank Hartnett at 978-877-1905 or frank.hartnett@catalanocompanies .com.

Yuletide Celebration at Ayer Town Hall: 1-4 p.m. at Ayer Town Hall, sponsored by Ayer Library in partnership with Arts Nashoba.

SUNDAY, DEC. 22

Christmas Cantata: First Baptist Church of Groton will host its annual Christmas Cantata Service at 10:45 A.M. The service will include a traditional Christmas Cantata entitled "Have You Any Room For Jesus?" based on Luke 2:1-20. We are located at 365 Main St. in Groton. Call 978-272-1335. Website: firstbaptistofgroton.org; email: pastorfaulk@charter.net.

TUESDAY, DEC. 24

Christmas Eve Candlelight Service: First Baptist Church of Groton will host its annual Candlelight Service on Christmas Eve at 6 p.m. We are located at 365 Main St. in Groton. All are welcome! For more information, call 978-272-1335. Website: firstbaptistofgroton.org; email: pastorfaulk@charter.net.

Coming in January...

New Year's Day hike: noon. Annual New Year's Day Hike at the Oxbow Refuge. Walk off some of the extra calories collected during the holidays and hike or snowshoe the trails near the main entrance to the refuge, while meeting up with old friends and making new ones. If there is enough snow, it should be possible to use cross-country skis. We'll start from the parking lot at the end of Still River Depot Road in Harvard. For information contact Rona at 978-779-2259 or Ada at ada.friendsoftheoxbownwr@gmail.com. The event is free and open to the public. Reminder: No dogs allowed on national refuges.