5 forest preserves where you can cut down your own Christmas tree (and why that’s OK)

If you’re a stickler for an old-fashioned Christmas, you may be venturing into the woods this year, ala Clark Griswold to chop down your own yuletide tree. Surprisingly, selected nature preserves, state and national forests are open to controlled tree-chopping activities, though you may really have to go hunting for these locations.

Mother Nature can teach the children well

Kayaking with the LEAF program (Photo: The Nature Conservancy)

The kids are heading back to the classroom – if they aren’t already there sitting in rows in front of a blackboard – and parents are plotting how to give their children an academic advantage. Some are buying DVDs, books or computer programs. Some are paying for tutors or study skill seminars. All well and good. But if you want you kids to be smarter, some experts say, push them out the backdoor to play in the dirt, hunt for bugs and pollywogs, and explore the nearby park.