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Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Week Between Christmas and New Year's: A Survival Guide

The day after Christmas is always the beginning of a long week for me. It's great to have all those consecutive days with my family, but it's also a challenge to find things to do, especially when so many friends are traveling and playdates are hard to come by.

This year, though, I've made a plan. Maybe you'd like to steal some of my ideas:

1. The Houdini show at the Jewish Museum - Reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (our book club selection for January) recently got me thinking about Houdini. He hovers at the periphery of this book as a sort of muse for the author and the characters. His presence reminded me how much he meant to me to as a kid. I used to check a different biography out of the school library every week and although I retain some major timeline points from the lives of various people (Bart Starr, Douglas MacArthur, Louis Pasteur...) I mainly only remember a few powerful scenes from these books. The most vivid by far is Houdini swimming under the water looking for a hole in the ice to escape, possibly hearing the voice of a dead relative to help guide him to safety. I can't remember the exact details, though. Some Houdini research is in my near future.

Can't wait to see this show!

2. Kwanzaa at the African Burial Ground In Colum McCann's Let the Great World Spin (our book club selection for February), a character declares "New York kept going forward precisely because it didn't give a good g------ about what it had left behind." I think this is true to a point. New York often disregards history in favor of new things, more profitable things, or things that are simply different.

But there are still a few little corners of our city where things are preserved, places where you can think about all the other lives that made our current ones possible. Of these, the African Burial Ground is one of the most fascinating and important.

A must-visit for families, whether you make it during their Kwanzaa celebration (December 28) or not.

3. The Museum of the City of New York Although it consistently has some of the most thoughtful and unique exhibits, this is a museum I visit far too little. I'm planning to go there as soon as possible to see their exhibit dedicated to Denys Wortman's newspaper drawings.

Got some other ideas for beating the post-Hanukkah&Christmas / pre-New Year's blues? Send 'em to us. I'd especially like to pass on brainstorms for things to do in other cities.