A Column by Martha Seymour
Holiday Planning in the Big Apple, Alone or With Others
As we get closer to holiday time in New York City, my mind drifts to all the many lovely things there are to do around town. Many of them are free and accessible by public transportation. Doing it alone or with others is relatively easy. Planning at the last minute is one way to go. I don’t know about you, but I like to structure the weeks ahead by penciling fun and/or cultural activities into my calendar. Whatever system you use, it is refreshing to know that we’re in charge of our own lives and needn’t feel alone or lonely, especially during the holiday season.
Choose an activity to do solo, with family, or friends. You can stay home and listen to holiday music or watch holiday movies and specials on television or catch some vintage classics on YouTube. Checking off the categories of things you like to do helps to narrow down the wide variety of choices available in our fair city. I especially enjoy listening to music, whether it be religious music sung in churches or very old and secular songs. You might choose other things to do, but this is a start. Listening to the preferences of others can give you some new ideas about future activities. Going solo may open the opportunity to meet future companions who share your interests for future activities and events.
Many folks use the Internet to find interesting happenings around town. You can also try Time Out New York magazine, in print or online. One such major website to search out city happenings is www.nycgo.com.
Here is a basic list of traditional winter holiday events indigenous to New York City:
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on 11/27; Lincoln Square Party on 12/1; Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on 12/3; Hanukah Menorah Lighting Ceremony on 12/6; and New Year’s Eve Times Square Ball Dropping Ceremony on 12/31.
Note that even if you miss the Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting ceremony itself, the tree is a spectacular sight to behold for several weeks after Christmas. Ice skating is fun too. And if you don’t skate, you can watch tourists and urbanites swirling around (and occasionally gracefully, or not, flopping down on the ice) in their colorful holiday gear.
Macy’s has a major tourist facility now on one of its first floor balconies at 34th Street and Broadway. Our public libraries provide activities for children and adults.
You can always pick up a local newsstand issue of The New Yorker, New York Magazine or Time Out New York to find out about the latest popular A-rated restaurants, walking tours, movies, theatres, dance, and comedy acts in New York. Or check out your local neighborhood newspapers and community newsletters, college bulletins, and listen to that old fashioned device called a radio. And remember, even the outer boroughs such as Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island celebrate the holidays, and you might enjoy an adventurous trek on the ferry boat. Did I mention The Bronx? There is always The Bronx Zoo for an interesting outing with the family.
Ever wander into a museum during holiday time? Try it. You never know who you might meet, or what unexpected fun you might have. Many museums are free to the public or you can pay what you can afford, be it five dollars, a dollar or a mere twenty-five cents. The Brooklyn Museum has a free monthly event called First Saturdays, providing an all-day experience of gallery viewing, as well as a schedule of live music, films, dance and refreshments. The National Museum of the American Indian, in Manhattan, is free every day. The Rubin Museum is free every first Monday of the month for seniors. Many bookstores have free literary activities. The Housing Works Book Café in Soho boasts a little café hosting events and it's where their old books reside.
Wishing you an enjoyably good holiday season and many happily planned, or unplanned, experiences.