Thursday 8

COLUMBIA CHESS CLUB, for players of all ages and skill levels with at least a basic understanding of the game, 3-4:30 p.m., East Columbia Branch Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way. Free. 410-313-7700.

NATURAL HOLIDAY DECORATING, a master gardener discusses how to use natural elements to decorate for the holidays, 7 p.m., Glenwood Branch Library, 2350 Route 97 (Roxbury Mills Road), Cooksville. Free; preregistration required. 410-313-5577.

Friday 9

ELLICOTT CITY BRIDGE PROGRAM, play duplicate bridge and learn how to improve, bring a partner and a bag lunch, coffee, tea and treats available, sponsored by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Fridays, Kiwanis-Wallas Recreation Center, 10481 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Free. 410-313-7279.

COLUMBIA MEDICARE DISCUSSION, "Medicare Today -- Understanding Medicare Prescription Drug Coverage 2006," representatives of the Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program of the Howard County Office on Aging will discuss the new federal drug coverage; a Social Security representative will be available to take applications, 10 a.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Bain Center, 5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia. Free. 410-313-7391.

SEASONAL STORY TIME, for children ages 2-5 accompanied by an adult, "Frosty Comes to Savage," 10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. Friday, 3:30 p.m. Saturday, and 10:15 a.m. and 11 a.m. Dec. 16, Savage Branch Library, Gorman and Knights Bridge roads, Laurel. Free; preregistration required. 410-880-5978.

COLUMBIA LIBRARY PROGRAM, for children and parents, discussion of Lucy Cousins's book "Maisy Makes Gingerbread," a workshop to create a gingerbread house and more, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Howard County Central Library, 10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. Free; preregistration required. 410-313-7880.

Saturday 10

ELLICOTT CITY BASEBALL DISCUSSION, "Talkin' Baseball," co-author Mark Hyman discusses his book "Confessions of a Baseball Purist: What's Right -- and Wrong -- With Baseball, as Seen From the Best Seat in the House," by Hyman and Jon Miller, 9 a.m., Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Longate Shopping Center, 4300 Montgomery Ave., Ellicott City. Free. 410-203-9001.

GREAT FALLS PARK HIKE, a six-mile hike in Virginia along the historic Patowmack Canal and the Difficult Run rapids, includes dramatic cliffs overlooking the Potomac River; bring lunch and water, sponsored by the Sierra Club, Howard County Group; carpool departure, 9 a.m., from Route 32 and Broken Land Parkway, west side park-and-ride lot, Columbia. Free. 301-725-3306.

COLUMBIA CERAMICS WORKSHOP, for people of all experience levels, a two-day class taught by guest artist Kevin Crowe, includes throwing and decorating demonstrations, a slide show and a discussion of clay concepts and techniques, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Columbia Association Art Center, 6100 Foreland Garth. $110; Columbia residents, $100; preregistration required. 410-730-0075.

COLUMBIA "NARNIA" STORY TIME, for 8 and older, stories, trivia, games and more, 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., Howard County Central Library, 10375 Little Patuxent Pkwy., Columbia. Free; preregistration required. 410-313-7880.

ELKRIDGE LIBRARY CRAFT-MAKING, for all ages, create a seasonal craft, 2-4 p.m., Elkridge Branch Library, 6540 Washington Blvd. Free. 410-313-5085.

SAVAGE LIBRARY SEASONAL WORKSHOP, for ages 11-12, make a snowman table or desk top centerpiece, materials provided, 2-4 p.m., Savage Branch Library, Gorman and Knights Bridge roads, Laurel. Free. 410-880-5980.

Sunday 11

HARPERS FERRY PARK HIKE, a strenuous 9-11 mile hike through areas in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, including along the C&O Canal and through the town of Harpers Ferry; bring lunch and water, sponsored by the Sierra Club, Howard County Group; carpool departure, 8:30 a.m., from the Bagel Bin parking lot, Enchanted Forest Shopping Center, 10000 Baltimore National Pike, Ellicott City. Free. 410-248-2974.

Monday 12

ELKRIDGE BOOK DISCUSSION, "Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: A Novel," by Dai Sijie, sponsored by the Good Reads at Elkridge Book Club, noon Monday and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Elkridge Branch Library, 6540 Washington Blvd. 410-313-5077.

Tuesday 13

COLUMBIA SCRABBLE GAME, for 18 and older, a drop-in program, coffee included; Scrabble boards provided or bring your own; sponsored by the Wilde Lake Community Association, 10-11:30 a.m. Tuesday and the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month, Slayton House, Wilde Lake Village Green, 10451 Twin Rivers Rd., Columbia. Free; game donations welcome. 410-730-3987.

SAVAGE LIBRARY BOARD GAMES, for 11 and older, play Scrabble, Life, Monopoly, Clue and others, or bring another favorite, 4 p.m., Savage Branch Library, Gorman and Knights Bridge roads, Laurel. Free. 410-880-5980.

COLUMBIA LIBRARY JAZZ CLUB, for ages 11-15, learn to play easy arrangements, bring your own instrument (all instruments welcome), includes a jam session with musicians from the Council of Elders, parental permission slips required of students, 4:30 p.m. Tuesdays, East Columbia Branch Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia. Free. 410-313-7704.

COLUMBIA HOLIDAY POTLUCK DINNER, bring a dish to share, entertainment by the Baltimore Men's Chorus, sponsored by the Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Columbia-Howard County, 7:30 p.m., Owen Brown Interfaith Center, 7246 Cradlerock Way. Free. 410-290-8292 or www.pflagmd.org.

Wednesday 14

ELLICOTT CITY BRIDGE AND PINOCHLE, for 18 and older, bring a bag lunch, coffee and tea available, a drop-in program sponsored by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks; bridge group, 9:30 a.m.-noon Wednesdays and Fridays; pinochle group, 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesdays and Fridays, Kiwanis-Wallas Recreation Center, 10481 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Free; snack-fund donations accepted. 410-313-7279.

CHILDREN'S LIBRARY PROGRAM, for ages 3-5, learn about signs of winter through snow stories, and more, 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., East Columbia Branch Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia. Free. 410-313-7730.

ELLICOTT CITY KNITTING GROUP, a drop-in program, knit and crochet afghans, blankets and baby clothes for local charities, hospitals and senior centers, sponsored by the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, Kiwanis-Wallas Recreation Center, 10481 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Free. 410-313-7279.

COOKSVILLE BOOK DISCUSSION, for mothers and daughters 11 and older, "Molly Moon's Incredible Book of Hypnotism," by Georgia Byng, sponsored by the library's Mother/Daughter Book Club, 7 p.m., Glenwood Branch Library, 2350 Route 97 (Roxbury Mills Road), Cooksville. Free. 410-313-5577.

MYSTERY BOOK DISCUSSION, "Suspect," by Michael Robotham, sponsored by the Savage Mystery Book Club, 7 p.m., Savage Branch Library, Gorman and Knights Bridge roads, Laurel. Free. 410-880-5980.

ELLICOTT CITY GENEALOGY TALK, Ray Frazier discusses "Grimesville, a Look Back in History," sponsored by the Howard County Genealogical Society, 7:30 p.m., Ellicott City Senior Center, 9401 Frederick Rd., Ellicott City. Free. 410-465-8456.

Thursday 15

COLUMBIA NEW CINEMA PROGRAM, "March of the Penguins," refreshments available, 7 p.m., East Columbia Branch Library, 6600 Cradlerock Way, Columbia. Free; preregistration required. 410-313-7700.

-- Compiled by LINDA JAMES

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