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Best year-end destination of 2020: your place

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

This has been a difficult year. We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the middle of a storm. The coronavirus pandemic is probably the most significant global event of this century - due to its impact on everybody's physical and emotional health, and on the economy.

The best news of the year, no doubt, is the arrival of effective vaccines - vaccines that promise to lift us out of the social and emotional isolation we have been in for almost a year. So, we can't wait to hit the road !!! Except that such vaccines need six weeks to start effectively protecting us,once you can actually receive them. In between today and you getting it, there is a whole process of manufacture and distribution. In other words, the vaccines are real, but it will take time for most of us to receive them, and to then completely ditch masks and social isolation.

In short, we all have been in this quarantine for way too long, we can't wait to get out, hug our friends, show our smiles and, vaccines are coming, Christmas and New Year are here. Time to hit the road?

Do you want to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory? After so much sacrifice? Our advice is to spend Christmas and New Year at… home. That's right. You read it right, after all you've been through this year, you still need to stay home. But it doesn't have to be boring, does it? As our business is travel, and traveling is done in many ways, here are our tips for enjoying a different, but pleasant and fun Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Decorate for the occasion

If you love parties and will miss all your relatives and friends that you will NOT hug during this Holiday season, our advice is to improvise.

Photo byTyler Delgado on Unsplash

It is very likely that you are already super, hyper, ultra tired of your place, of spending so much time home, indoors. But, look, a great tip is to enjoy the parties and transform your place by decorating it accordingly. Whatever your religious beliefs, get ready to celebrate the holidays and the Year to come (the Year of the Vaccine itself!). Decorate for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or simply fill your corner of the world with colors, sparkles and scents to wait for the new year. Here are some tips on how to be creative, and to fill your place with colors and sparkles.

One thing that always gives a special touch to any room, making it cosier, are candles - they bring light, warmth and can also bring special scents that stress the Holidays. It is always good to be careful around fire, but the lights and the scents are worth a try.

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Zoom, google meet, whatsapp, are clearly not the same as actually seeing, touching, meeting people, but you can play pretend, and keep protecting everyone from this still deadly virus. Invite your people for (yet another) virtual meeting, organize a secret santa via elfster (in English only), pull up a festive screen background and… voilà: end of year version 2020 in action.

Get your hands dirty

If decorating isn't your thing, you really hate virtual meetings, but you would still like to tell the people you love that they are important to you in a concrete way ... well, back to the beginning of the pandemic, cook. Or, as English speakers prefer: bake! Prepare food, cookies and biscuits, decorate with care, write a short card, and leave it at the home of relatives and friends that you will not be able to hug because of the Maledetto!

Photo by Food Photographer | Jennifer Pallian on Unsplash

The hottest page on Brazilian internet for cooking, panelinha, has an exclusive section dedicated to the Holidays(Christmas), with festive recipes. In fact, the page also brings suggestions of dinner menus for small groups. A very handy perspective for the current times.

For those who love sweets above all, here it is an amazing collection of cookies' recipes, prepared by the New York Times (paywall), which also presents a collection of videos with holiday recipes on its Youtube channel. Highly recommended. Americans are really great baking cookies.

"Couch diving" - movies, TV series, plays, books and podcasts

Photo by Paolo Nicolello on Unsplash

This suggestion is best enjoyed if you find the right lists. Although I am not an expert in any of these categories, I have my favorites of the year in most of them, so I will start by sharing my own list.

Favorite TV series: The Queen's Gambit was the best (mini) series I watched this year.

Best Play: Haven't quite decided yet, but a strong contender is this one: The inside of the cloister

Best Book: I read more than I expected this year. My favorite, by far, is Chimamanda (Ngozi Adichie) 's Half of a Yellow Sun. It is not a happy story, nor does it allow for a happy ending. But it is beautiful, poetic, and strong. Worthy of every minute you dedicate to it. I haven't read the author's other books yet, but everyone keeps recommending them all to me. You should check it out.

Best podcast: I heard a lot of them this past year. As I am a migrant, one of my preferred ones is "The Teresina Forum", it is a weekly show that keeps me updated with current events in my home country (Brazil). In English, I recommend Hidden Brain (on the unconscious patterns of human behavior, according to themselves) and Throughline (dedicated to analyzing historical events to understand the present), both originally from public radio (non-governmental, in the USA), although Hidden Brain has recently spun off on a solo enterprise.

Bonus suggestion: Boston Ballet is displaying Nutcracker on its website. Just use your email to register, and enjoy it. It's a beautiful, traditional event for the Holidays in Boston. I saw it live, and recently, streaming. Abridged version, great to watch with kids. Available until January 2nd.

Photo by David Ballew on Unsplash

I love lists and retrospectives. I find it really cool to read experts' opinions on books, films, series, podcasts, plays etc. I love to remember the past year, and to think about the New coming (I confess, I am optimistic). I read even the saddest retrospective: the list of people we lost in the year that ends. This year, this list is especially long and painful, given the pandemic and to many countries' inability to respond to it. Still, for me, this retrospective is a way of celebrating the people who passed and their legacy to us, who are sticking around for a bit longer.

Mostly, I suggest that you look for the best of lists in media outlets and blogs that you know and respect, and I am confident you will find various suggestions to make your confined end of the year much more pleasant than you are expecting.

As a progressive (!) who lives in Uncle Sam's Land, I usually find great suggestions on The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Economist (incidentally, Bacurau, the centenary Clarice Lispector and Machado de Assis all showed up in their lists this year). For the must-sees in Brazil, I reach out to my friends, who are the best informed people I know.

If there is any upside to this very tough year it is that, for once, you have a solid excuse to refuse invitations to go out, and hence, you get a once in a lifetime opportunity to stay at home, and, for once, you may actually have enough time to read books, watch movies, listen to music, and whatever else you feel like.

Walk around

In all these year-end options, if your corner of the World allows, put on your mask, and go for a walk. Beach, parks, ocean, lakes, ponds, mountains, choose an open and safe area, and just march and look at the world. Feel the breeze, watch the sky. Again, slow down. Now it may seem lonely, but when the world goes back to its normal pace, you will probably have less time to slow down. Carpe diem.

Photo by Avel Chuklanov on Unsplash

Otherwise, hold on. There is still a lot to endure, but look how far we have come. All seems to indicate that we are finally getting to the beginning of the end. A joyful ending, the end of the pandemic.

It looks like, next year, we get to go out into the world, literally.

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