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You probably don’t need to be told that this is the last shopping weekend before Christmas. The holiday craze is at its peak: Traffic is a snarl, the sidewalks are packed with people, and many pockets are filled with crumpled to-do lists.

This final weekend can test the strongest holiday spirit, but as the holiday stress crescendos, there’s one holiday tradition that can defuse my irritation instantly: Christmas trees. These cheerful holiday sentinels peeking from the windows of many Island homes and businesses bring back a flood of childhood memories and restore my holiday spirit enough that I’ll even submit to overplayed Christmas songs on the radio.

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Alamedans are getting into the spirit of things this holiday season, and reader Cathy Nielsen persuaded us to tell that story by sharing readers' holiday decoration pics.

Future residential development was on everyone’s mind Tuesday night as a growth-friendly City Council gave way to two new members who support a slower approach to development.

 
From the Better Late Than Never Department: If you've been meaning to donate food, coats or toys this holiday season and just haven't gotten the chance, there's still time to help out. Here's a map of collection barrels across the Island.

After several days of downpour the sun came out to play Sunday morning (appropriately), and my day began with a dog walk. I joined my friend Larry and his three-legged dog Maggie for a morning constitutional down Broadway and along the bay in the bird sanctuary.

Dozens of Alamedans took to the streets Sunday to protest police killings of unarmed black men in New York and Ferguson, Mo. and to express their frustration about the lack of charges against the officers responsible for the killings.

The City Council is holding a special meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, December 16 and a regular meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 16 in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue.

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Broad Brush, your two-sentence weekly news review. Here’s what happened this week.

AC Transit and Alameda police are investigating a fatal bus collision with a pedestrian that occurred Thursday evening.

Friends identified the victim as Sam Sause, 78, of Alameda.

I was excited when I heard there was a new BBQ place opening up here in Alameda. Being from the South, I crave the slow-cooked smoked meats of my youth and have had a hard time finding good places that do it right. So, last Sunday my family and I ventured out to Alameda South Shore Center to give the Best Lil’ Porkhouse a try.