The Three Ghosts of Christmas

“I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.

Their faithful Friend and Servant, C.D. December, 1843.”

putting up the Christmas tree... an epic tradition

And it was with this little letter to his readers that Charles Dickens began his classic “A Christmas Carol.”  Whether it’s through Mickey Mouse, or Kermit the Frog, or Jim Carrey, or Bill Murray, or Dickens himself, you’ve heard the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge’s transformation from frosty miser to merry man of charity. Dickens warned us, his novel is a ghost story, a merry moralizing ghost story.

A century an a half after Dickens published the novel, his great-great grandson, tours the world reading the tale aloud to throngs of holiday merry-makers. Dickens’ story is so well-loved because it speaks to the power of Christmas to warm the heart. Ultimately, “a Christmas Carol” is exactly what its title says it is — a joyous song about the many miracles of Christmas. Though, as I’ve grown a bit older (only a bit) and a bit wiser (only a very, very little bit), I’ve come to realize that it is not only the Scrooges of the world who are haunted by the 3 Ghosts of Christmas. For all of us, the Christmas present teams with the spectres of Christmases past and Christmases future. Truthfully, Christmas is more haunted than Halloween.

I’m lucky. Most of my ghosts of Christmas past are Caspers. They’re friendly and warm memories of tree-hunting, dinner parties, caroling in front of the fire, and the exciting exchange of gifts. This is not to say every Christmas past was as perfect as a picture print from Currier & Ives, but I have been more fortunate than most to be able to spend my 24 Christmases with the people I love most. As for the ghost of Christmas Present? He promises to bring another Eve and Day passed in good cheer.

But the Ghost of Christmas Future, whether for Scrooge or for us, is less friendly. With his inevitable visit (which usually comes once all the guests have gone and I’m alone in front of the fire), comes a sense of uncertainty. For how much longer will I be this lucky? What will my Christmas look like 10 years from now? Will I still be preparing dinner for my family? Will that family be bigger? Smaller? There’s always a pang of fear with the thought that one day I might spend Christmas alone. Without the benefit of siblings or family in this country, it’s not a total stretch of the imagination. I think of the many things that have happened since last Christmas — of my friends who married, of my friends who broke up, of my cousin’s passing, of my family’s reunion. Uncertainty is the one certainty that comes with every new year, and it’s the post palpable at Christmas.

Luckily, I tend not to dwell for too long on the darker spectres that loom in the future. I prefer to start planning my menu for next year’s Christmas banquet… maybe, I’ll bake a pie. Everyone loves a pie.

~~~~

“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited…Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time…as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know if, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.” – Scrooge’s Nephew

Dating Artfully in New York City

post graduation adventures 008

a couple kisses in the MoMA sculpture garden

Every guy knows that if he wants to win the girl, he has show he has a cultured and sensitive side. Sometimes he tries to get his in by talking about Austen, but let’s face it… relate too much to Elizabeth Bennett and the object of your desire may think you play for the other team. No, no, museums and concerts stand as the more reliable option for men looking to impress their newest lady. As a New Yorker, an art addict/insider, and a girl, i’d like to think I can offer the male population a few art-oriented outings that will be sure to woo your woman.

But before I lay out your options, here’s one DON’T that many make the mistake of doing…

DO NOT GO TO A MUSEUM ON A FREE ADMISSION NIGHT. That’s right. Sure it seems like a good idea — why fork out $40 for two tickets to MoMA and then pay for dinner on top of it when you can get comped tickets on Friday night and get to see all that art? Answer: Because everyone in Manhattan, resident and tourist alike, is thinking exactly the same thing. Museums get swarmed, and the galleries are just not big enough to handel the volume (the Met is probably the only exception to this… but it’s also the most unweildy in terms of stuff). A musuem date is incredibly intimate. The temple-like atmosphere requires hushed voices, which then requires a physical closeness to share opinions and insights. There are lots of opportunities for those hand on the arm/small of back moments that make a girl go weak in the knees. But, fill the galleries with tons of couples, families, and teenagers, and you lose that quiet closeness. Also, all those people just make it plain ol’ difficult to see the art. What’s the point of going to a museum if you can’t get at the Van Goghs? Instead, if you have time and really want to impress your date, use the free nights to get aquainted with the collections and the new exhibits.

adventures with the Forman 088

The Brooklyn Museum of Art at dusk

1. The Brooklyn Museum of Art
The BMA is too often overlooked. Which is a good thing, because traffic through the galleries, even on a weekend, is generally light. It boasts a stupendous and well-curated collection of American art and often exhibits top-notch special shows. Right now, “Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History, 1955-Present” is up and looks like a stellar photo show.

Ride the train together, peruse the collection, ride over to DUMBO and buy her a hot chocolate from Jacques Torres before you walk over the Brooklyn Bridge and back into Manhattan. Guaranteed to get you to another date.

2. The Frick Collection
The Frick is my go-to NYC Museum. It’s small, easily digestible, and the art is pretty. There is very little in the collection made after 1917, which means most of it is attractive. Monet, Manet, Whistler, Turner, Veronese, Goya, Rembrandt — all the heavy-hitters of Western Art. You don’t have to fain knowledge of Conceptualism or Post-Modernism to make an impression — everything you studied in Art History 101 is here. The courtyard is a convenient place to break, sit side-by-side and talk about the raw, turbulent power of the Turners in the grand West Gallery. And the fact the art is displayed in a personal home gives you a thousand more things to make conversation about.

Want to cap it with a meal or snack? You’re near Central Park and Dean and Deluca. Picnic? Absolutely a must.

3. Concerts and drinks at the Met
In the summer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art opens a martini bar in its sculpture garden, and its still open for another two weeks! Visit the new American wing and then head out for a drink among some bronzes.

The Met is also well-known for their jazz concerts.

4. A Movie at MoMA
The Museum of Modern Art was the first fine arts museum to recognize film as fine art medium in its permanent collection. They show approx 800 films of year — everything from Edison’s early 11 minute reels to contemporary blockbusters like Adaptation. A exhibition on Tim Burton opens at the end of November, so take your date to see her favorite Johnny Depp-Burton collaboration and over 700 drawings and art objects from Burton’s personal collection.

Afterward, walk East to Park Ave and the Brasserie. The French Bistro is a midtown mainstay (I practically grew up there) and has great happy hour deals and delicious pomme frites (perfect for sharing!).

A Few more tips…
– don’t bother with P.S. 1 — the only time it’s worth the trek to Queens is during the summer time when they have parties. Otherwise, the only thing good about P.S. 1 is the building.
– I also don’t recommend gallery hopping. To make yourself look good, you need to have some sense of what’s going on in the contemporary art world, and the contemporary art world is one big mess. While the free wine at openings is tempting, gallery shows are too risky. Museums have their collections and special exhibitions online, which means you have a chance to do a little research before you meet her.
– keep an eye out for MoMA Mixx and MoMA’s PopRally events — dancing, open bars and discounted after-hours tickets.

She’s Just SOO that into you

Men think women are complicated. Truth is, we’re not. Sure we over analyze your every actions. Sure, we’re often subtle. But in the end when we think you might be our Prince Charmings, we have our ways of letting you know.

She’s Just sooo that into you if…

she always picks up the phone when you call.
We have caller ID. As soon as we meet you we store your number, or at least memorize a few digits. We know when you’re calling. In a similar vein, we’ll call you back within a few hours if you leave a message. We try to follow the rules, but we always get back sooner rather than later. Usually, we’re so excited that you called that we tend knee-jerk react to your interest — we don’t want to take a chance you’ll forget about us or replace us with that hot girl in the check out line at the bodega.
She’s just not that into you if she doesn’t call you back — but you probably already knew this, since it’s how you let us know that you’re just not that into us.

she emails you articles/youtube videos/book titles she thinks you’ll like.
This means she’s been paying attention to the things you’re interested in, and wants to let you know she’s thinking about you. The next thing she’ll do is send you a note that she listened to that Rolling Stones album you’ve been raving about and agrees that track 5 is her favorite too.
She’s just not that into you if she can’t remember the name of your favorite band/book/movie/parent/dog. “Another Brick in the Wall” is your cell phone ring; there’s a poster of The Other Side of the Moon’s cover on your wall; you frequently mention that David Gilmour is the greatest guitarist of the century; you’ve told her Pink Floyd is greatest band of all time. But she buys you a Beatles t-shirt for your birthday because she thinks that’s your favorite band. If she can’t remember the things you like to do, then she’s not listening to you. If she’s not listening to you, she’s just not that into you.

she’s not having sex with you.
This may seem a bit contradictory to you, but women who think they have a chance at a successful long term relationship with a guy try to put off sex until they’re sure the relationship is monogamous. If she likes you, she’ll stay over, there’ll be below the belt action, but she won’t do you until she knows it’s going somewhere.Women aren’t like men — they can’t get sexually involved and remain emotionally detached. Hopefully, she’s already warned you that you’re going to have to wait to get the goods.
She’s just not that into you if she sleeps with you on the first date. If she put out that fast, she’s already decided it’s not going anywhere, or she’s just out for some fun. She’s playing you like you’d play her.


you’ve never seen her without makeup.

When a girl likes a guy, she always makes sure she looks like an Ace when she sees him. The necklines are low, the jeans fit well, her hair is always down and she has lip gloss and eyeliner on. Even if the date is a casual pick-up football game, she’s still sporting the bronzer and the push-up bra.
She’s just not that into you if she’s covering up the cleavage. Women know men want boobs. If the shirt is buttoned up, or she keeps her arm over her chest when she’s around you, she doesn’t want you looking and if she doesn’t want you looking she’s just not that into you.

she always has something nice to say about you.
Sure she busts your balls, but she always mitigates it with some sort of compliment — has anyone ever told you you like like Ben Affleck?, that shirt’s a good color for you, I wish I knew that much about carburetors etc. She may be being honest, but in the end she wants to make sure you know she thinks you’re cute/funny/a decent guy.
She’s just not that into you if she says say nice things about someone else. Sometimes, girls will mention another guy’s abs or another guy’s sense of humour to see if you react. But if she’s always mentioning the same guy, always with some sort of praise, then she’s into him and not you. If she says she just wants to be friends, believe her.

she finds time to hang out with you.
She’s a busy girl — she works an 8-6, she takes French classes, she’s training for a triathlon, she volunteers with meals on wheels etc etc, but when you suggest grabbing lunch on saturday afternoon, when she typically goes shopping with her gal-pals, she’ll tell you she’s free (and if she’s legitimately not because she’s in China, then she’ll suggest another time).
She’s just not that into you if she always has an excuse for not hanging out with you. She’s not playing hard to get, she really doesn’t want you to get her. She’ll only keep her distance for so long — natural insecurity sets in and if she likes you, she doesn’t want you to lose interest. If she’s never around for you, then she’s just not that into you.

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