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How will you spend your holiday vacation? - Curt Yeomans

"Holiday, oh, a holiday, and the best one of the year" -- Vampire Weekend.

You've probably been hearing those lyrics a lot lately, thanks to the Honda car commercials that feature people who are probably just a bit too happy to be doing all of their hanging out in a car.

I've got news for you, though. If you've seen Vampire Weekend's music video for that song, you'll realize they are not talking about Christmas. Not unless people celebrate Christmas with a pool party.

They are talking about a "holiday" in the European sense. In other words, they used the word "holiday" to describe what we know as a vacation.

But, isn't this really the perfect time for a holiday vacation?

I think it is. You get a day off for Christmas, and a day off for New Year's. This year, both holidays fall on Saturdays, so you might be getting the preceding Fridays off. In other words, you could have a couple of three-day weekends coming up.

So, that begs the following question: "How ya gonna spend 'em?"

One of the big things to do is ice-skating.

Many cities have ice-skating rinks set up around the holidays. Even Atlanta has one, but the most famous is, perhaps, the rink at Rockefeller Center, in New York City. There are many others, however.

The one I really know about is the Boston Common Frog Pond (in Boston, Mass.). In the summer, little kids are splashing around in the pond, but in winter, you can ice-skate on it.

I looked around the Internet to find other highly recommended places where ice-skating is an option. The Sculpture Garden Ice Rink (across the street from the National Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C.), and The Pond at Bryant Park (in New York City) came up multiple times.

I suggest ice-skating because the tree lightings are behind us, and there are no big public Christmas Day celebrations.

New Year's, however, is a different story. Now, assuming you're not into watching a giant peach drop (I know I'm not), you can get out of town for a few days for a quick getaway to ring in the new year.

I know it's cliche to suggest going to Times Square, to watch the crystal ball drop, but maybe it is not such a bad idea to try it once, especially since Times Square just underwent a radical transformation.

New York City has permanently closed off the center of Times Square to vehicles, and turned it into a large pedestrian plaza.

But, if you prefer more splash than a falling ball, Los Angeles, Calif., has a big fireworks display at the ship, the Queen Mary.

And there are always the flashy celebrations in Europe. For example, did you know the French do a special laser-light show from the Eiffel Tower as the new year arrives? And a bit farther from here, there's a huge fireworks display in the harbor in Sydney, Australia.

The City of London (in England, not Canada) shoots fireworks from -- and all around -- the London Eye. It's a big, elaborate, splashy event. There are sprays of sparks shooting off the London Eye in all directions.

So, in closing, there are plenty of ways to celebrate a holiday vacation. Just take your pick.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.