The last week of 2020.


Welcome. It’s the last week of the year, a time when many of us might normally be visiting with family and friends. This year has required some reconfiguring of holiday plans: You might be staying inside, with your usual brood or on your own; you might be working or looking for work; busy or looking for diversion. If you find yourself with the time and inclination to do some reading, there are a bunch of culture and lifestyle stories in The Times that you should check out.

I love this examination, by Nina Siegal, of the life and work of the artist Ulay. Most of us won’t be visiting the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam to see the retrospective of his work, but this article is the next best thing.

Ben Sisario’s story about the album that the country-rock musician Steve Earle recorded of songs by his son, Justin Townes Earle, who died this summer, is beautiful and transporting.

And don’t miss Dorie Greenspan’s tale of decades of New Year’s Eve dinners in Paris, which finishes with an all-American recipe for mulling-spice cake with cream-cheese frosting.

I hope you enjoy these pieces as much as I did. When you’re done, dive into some more “Best of 2020” recommendations from At Home readers.

  • If you really want to escape, read “Nobody Will Tell You This But Me: A True (as Told to Me) Story,” by Bess Kalb. You will laugh and cry, and I promise you will feel way more hopeful when you are done. —Ricky, 60, Miami Beach

  • I’m on my second listen to the “Dolly Parton’s America” podcast. Because everything is coming up Dolly this year and for good reason — the woman is made of relentless positive energy and joy. And wigs. Lots of wigs. —Rebecca, 48, Centennial, Colo.

  • The book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,” by Betty Edwards. Doing an exercise every day has taught me a long-coveted new skill! —Aurelia, 19, New Haven, Conn.

  • I became an expert in making granola. I handed it out throughout the year to family, neighbors and friends. It was a big hit and very satisfying to provide some joy to others. —David, 58, Scotch Plains, N.J.

  • I tried a meditation app called “Ten Percent Happier,” recommended by my daughters. I hadn’t experienced anything this life-changing in a while. I’m trying hard not to be that lady who tells everyone they should try meditation … but you really should try meditation! —Anne, 62, Hood River, Ore.

  • At the end of March, my husband suggested we have a special meal once a week. It would be fancier than usual, include a first course and dessert, and we’d dress up as if we were going out to dinner. We have done this every week, and at the end of the year will have had 41 such meals. —Marisue, 83, Orono, Maine

  • The Anthropocene Reviewed,” a podcast hosted by John Green, considers specific segments of our human-centered world using a 5-star rating format. It is witty, informative, melancholic, and hopeful. —Amanda, 31, Pittsburgh, Penn.

What’s on your mind? What are you thinking about as 2020 comes to a close? Let us know: athome@nytimes.com. We’re At Home. We’ll read every letter sent. As always, more ideas for leading a full and cultured life at home appear below. Thanks for keeping us company this year. See you in 2021.

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