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Holiday entertainment abounds

With “Black Friday” sales starting earlier than ever this year, people who enjoy holiday shopping were able to get into the spirit of the season almost before the sun set on Thanksgiving, whether they took a trip to the regional mall, a local shopping plaza, or their downtown retail district. But Emily McAnulty, a mother of three from Concord, was not among them.

For McAnulty and her children, the holiday season officially begins when they put on their best clothes and head off to one of the many local productions of “The Nutcracker.”

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“We celebrate the holiday season by spending time together as a family, preferably seeing some kind of special performance,” McAnulty said. “For us, the excitement of Christmas time isn’t about standing in line at the cash register or finding a sale; it’s about watching a spectacular show that talented people have been working on for months.”

McAnulty may be in the minority; according to many reports, hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic shoppers are well into the buying whirl by now. And indeed, many retail business owners and their employees depend on this kind of holiday spirit. Still, for those who agree with McAnulty that the season of Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa begins not when the stores open but when the curtain rises, there is no shortage of attractions from which to choose.

Local holiday happenings include a Holiday Pops concert by the Lexington Symphony, an ambitious “Nutcracker’’ in Franklin, the Reagle Music Theater’s 30th annual “Christmas Time’’ extravaganza in Waltham, and a Holiday Dance Party Spectacular in Arlington.

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