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A quick look at what's happening today in Western New York

It doesn't look like winter yet, but be patient. The National Weather Service promises that we'll have some sort of snow before Christmas.

It won't arrive until late tonight or Friday, though. The first thing this new season will give us is sunshine. This being the shortest day of the year, it won't be very strong sunshine and it won't push the temperatures up beyond the low 40s.

We might have snow to greet us when we wake up on Friday -- the wet, slushy kind. The hills of the Southern Tier may get as much as 3 inches, but the rest of us should see only a thin covering, half an inch or so. More snow showers are due later Friday and Friday night as temperatures dip down into the 20s.

Occasional snow showers are supposed to continue for the Bills-Broncos game on Saturday, but there also could be some periods of sunshine. Temperatures in the mid- to upper 30s are forecast.

Snow should be in the air again on Christmas Day, but it's not likely to stick. A high near 40 is expected under cloudy skies. Above normal temperatures are supposed to continue through the middle of next week. Anybody getting a sled under the Christmas tree will probably have to wait a few days before they can try it out.

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It's the busiest shipping day of the year for the nation's largest parcel delivery service, UPS, and no wonder. It's the last day you can send out a package and have it arrive in time for Christmas. Expect long lines at the UPS outlets. Ditto for the post offices. Although it's too late for regular parcel post or even Priority Mail, you can still get a gift where it has to go by Christmas if you send it Express Mail.

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No longer can you say you can't get your holiday shopping done because the stores are closed at night. Macy's in Walden Galleria is staying open around the clock from now until 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. It's one of only 14 Macy's stores in six states that are staging the shopping marathon, which kicked off Wednesday.

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New Creation Fellowship Church, 3325 Genesee St., Cheektowaga, is a distribution center for the Western New York Holiday Partnership and has been giving Christmas toys to needy families for more than 20 years. With needs greater than ever this year, Pastor Stephen J. Andzel and the congregation expect to pass along a record number of toys to hundreds of youngsters tonight, beginning at 8.

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Setting an example this morning is Rep. Kathy Hochul. She's going to the Salvation Army of Lockport, 50 Cottage St., to join the commander, Maj. John Wheeler, in distributing food and toys to families in need. Hochul is encouraging Western New Yorkers to help those less fortunate during the holiday season in any way they can.

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Country singer Pat Shea has established his own holiday tradition. For the 15th year, he's doing his annual Christmas show, bringing his rich, three-octave baritone to the Lancaster Opera House, 21 Central Ave., at 7:30 p.m. There's no question that he knows the material well. He has two Christmas CDs to prove it. Tickets are $20 at the door, $7 for kids 12 and under. For info, call 870-4709.

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Marking the arrival of the winter solstice are the players from Buffalo United Artists, 119 W. Chippewa St. A cast of more than a dozen musicians, actors, singers and others will stage a Spontaneous Solstice Celebration at 7 p.m., with proceeds to benefit the theater. Donation is $10, or if you wish, bring a dessert to pass.

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One of the few bright spots for the struggling Buffalo Sabres this month was Friday's home ice overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. After suffering two miserable losses since then, they'll try to end their slide when they face the Leafs again tonight, this time in the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Face-off is around 7. Watch on the MSG Channel. Listen on WGR 550 AM.

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All the other students have left for semester break, but some of the local Big 4 college basketball teams have one more assignment before they can go home for Christmas. The Niagara Purple Eagles men face Quinnipiac on the road tonight. Meanwhile, in the Koessler Athletic Center at Canisius College, both the men and women are at home in a doubleheader. The women play Albany at 5:15 p.m., then the men take on Loyola of Chicago at 7:30. Both games will be televised on Time Warner SportsNet.

[Published: December 21, 2011, 11:54 PM]

[Updated: December 22, 2011, 7:55 AM]

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