There is something about this time of year that makes me — and, it seems, a lot of other people — dream of being elsewhere. Here in New York City, on the eve of Christmas, the trees are bare and lack the compensating beauty of snow. The sky is unremittingly gray (when it’s not actually raining). The sun goes down at 4:30 in the afternoon. (Raise your hand if Noah Kahan’s sad-in-Vermont “Stick Season” resonates with you, too.)
When it comes to vacationing in the winter months, I think the world roughly divides into halves. There are the people who embrace a vision that involves snow and ice and seeing their breath when they step outside. And there are those who want to spend the day in their bathing suit and feel the warm sun on their shoulders. As The Times’s Travel editor, I feel a responsibility to both those groups. I personally might not dream of booking passage with 6,999 other people on the biggest cruise ship ever to launch, but there are those who do.
Special winter travel sections are something of a tradition for the Travel desk, and over the last few weeks, we’ve published two collections of articles filled with inspiration and advice. One was dedicated to readers who want to run toward the cold, and the other focused on those who want to escape it.
You may never book any of these trips, but I think one of the wonderful things about travel writing is that it lets us imagine all the lives we might have. I read our articles and fantasize: Maybe I am a person who spends Christmas in Vienna, ice skating under trees filled with twinkling lights and pausing to drink mulled wine. Or someone who checks into a fancy treehouse at a Vermont resort (a snowy one, not a sad one) and curls up with a book by the fireplace. Or who goes backcountry skiing in Colorado, climbing up and over mountain passes, then descending through fields of untracked snow.
If Hamas frees the hostages, Israel should drop its unrealistic war goals and withdraw from Gaza, Thomas Friedman writes.
The sheer amount of plagiarism in the case of Claudine Gay, Harvard’s president, means that she should resign, John McWhorter argues.
The Sunday question: Should Trump be barred from the ballot?
Section 3 of the 14th Amendment prohibits any insurrectionist from taking up federal office, making the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision a clear application of the law, CNN’s John Avlon writes: “The court can’t credibly pretend that the Constitution does not say what it clearly says.” But when the country still disagrees on whether Trump is an insurrectionist at all, keeping him off the ballot “could put democracy at more risk rather than less,” Samuel Moyn writes for Times Opinion.
“Home Alone 2”: The Manhattan brownstone in which Kevin McCallister (purportedly) took on the Wet Bandits is for sale.
Vows: They’ve known each other since the 1970s and had great marriages. Their decision to start a relationship surprised them more than it surprised friends.
Lives Lived: Giovanni Anselmo was an artist of many mediums who used a vast array of materials, including stone, paint, piles of earth and even lettuce, to provoke thought and wonder. He died at 89.
TALK | FROM THE TIMES MAGAZINE
One of my favorite interviews was with the great cellist and humanitarian Yo-Yo Ma. I thought some of Ma’s ideas about connecting with other people were worth revisiting at this time of the year.
Your work is rooted in the idea of music as a value-positive, ennobling thing. But music is also used in every possible awful context. Can we delineate music from the intentions of the people using it?
Music connects human beings. It brings people together. So a marching band will energize an athletic game or bring people to war. The bagpipe is used for war, for entertainment, for funerals, for weddings. Music is not one thing. It’s something that people react to. But your question — “Is that good or bad?” — it depends on circumstances and individuals and timing.
How do you think about the specific environment in which you’re playing music?
As a performer, my job is to make the listener the most important person in the room. The only way to avoid burnout is to care about where you are. Being present. Caring. You’re working with living material. That goes back to memory. The living material is only living if it is memorable. Not only that it’s memorable but that you pass it on. That is what I’m thinking about with every single interaction. Whether it’s a kid, someone on the street, in a concert hall or with you, David. It’s the same thing: How to be present. Because if you’re not?
Then why are we here?
That’s it. You are acknowledging someone’s existence by being present. It may take a lot more energy, but boy, is it much more rewarding. It makes me happy. It makes people happy. It’s wonderful.
Read more of the interview here.
More from the magazine
A quiz: It’s been 400 years since “The First Folio,” a landmark collection of Shakespeare’s plays, was published. How much do you know about it?
Our editors’ picks: “Happy,” a debut novel about a Punjabi farmer who moves to Italy, and eight other books.
Times best sellers: Rebecca Yarros remains in the top two spots on the combined e-book and print fiction best seller with “Fourth Wing” and “Iron Flame.”
THE MORNING RECOMMENDS …
Listen to podcasts about scams and con artists.
Make canapés like a professional chef.
Order a last-minute Christmas gift.