What to Do This Weekend

Any big plans?,


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Welcome. Any big plans for the weekend? I’ve been thinking about that question, a staple of workplace chitchat, at once an invitation to share something personal with a colleague and a challenge to quickly scour one’s mental datebook for something, anything that might rise to the level of a “plan,” never mind a “big” one.

I’ve noticed people have started asking about “big plans” again, whether for the weekend or the holidays, and the question feels loaded in new and tricky ways. Do my plans sound too risky, given the latest variant news? Too cautious? What am I revealing about my levels of comfort/discomfort with the pandemic moment when responding?

Of course, the query isn’t always meant to be taken literally; it’s small talk, a low-stakes opening, telegraphing that we’re not just workaday drones but multidimensional humans with lives outside of our jobs. But that’s another social byproduct of the pandemic: Apparently casual exchanges feel newly freighted. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, thinking harder about how we describe our lives. We might even periodically ask ourselves about our big plans — for this weekend, for next year, for the future. How do our responses shift, moment to moment?

I don’t mind telling you that my big plans this weekend involve watching the new season of “How To With John Wilson,” finishing Katie Kitamura’s riveting novel “Intimacies” (one of the Book Review’s 10 Best Books of 2021), checking out some of Eric Asimov’s favorite wines of 2021. (I’m curious about the “fresh, energetic, textured and eminently digestible” Australian riesling called “Opa, Watch Out!,” but it sounds tough to track down in the U.S.)

Tara Parker-Pope has some wellness advice worth putting into practice this weekend, including “Give the best hours of your day to yourself.” If you’re taking a trip over the holidays, be sure to spend a few minutes with “Omicron and Holiday Travel: 12 of the Most Pressing Questions.” Don’t miss these tips for getting through the holidays, whether you’re wondering about gathering in groups or just feeling generally overwhelmed. This story about reconfiguring holiday traditions might offer just the permission you need to skip some seasonal obligations altogether.

Whatever you get up to this weekend, let the At Home Catharsis Songs playlist be your soundtrack. It’s an eclectic assortment, and good for when you need a break from “Carol of the Bells.” Thanks to everyone who contributed.

Keep sending your best books, songs, recipes, ideas, movies, shows, advice, what-have-you of 2021 to athome@nytimes.com. Include your full name and location, and we might include your contribution in an upcoming newsletter. We’re At Home and Away. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, there’s more inspiration for leading a full and cultured life below. Have a good weekend.

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