As holidays go, New Year's Day is a poor stepchild. About all it's good for is nursing a hangover or watching football -- or at least that's how we treat it.
Not this year. Let's resolve to make Jan. 1 more than just an addendum to the celebration of the night before. Here are 10 great (or at least fun and useful) things to plan for the day that starts the rest of 2005.
1. Hit the new year running. The Baltimore Road Runners Club is holding its annual five-mile Father Time Frolic at Loch Raven Reservoir on Jan. 1, meeting at the Peerce's Plantation parking lot, 12460 Dulaney Valley Road, at 9 a.m. Runners predict their time before the race, and those who finish closest to their actual time will get a runner's watch. The entry fee is $2 for club members, $6 for everyone else. E-mail Cindy St. Clair at email@example.com for more information.
2. Go to the movies. Several of them. One local family has a movie marathon every Jan. 1. No, they don't sit on the couch and watch rented DVDs. Starting early afternoon, they take in three first-run films. Each parent gets to choose one, and the teenagers select the third. So, for instance, this New Year's Day your family might go to The Aviator, Phantom of the Opera and Flight of the Phoenix -- one after the other. New Year's Day dinner will have to be buttered popcorn and Raisinettes.
3. Start fresh. Adopt the Chinese custom of cleaning the house from top to bottom in honor of the new year. Do it on Jan. 1. Empty the refrigerator and kitchen shelves, and give away the staples to those who need them more. At the risk of sounding too much like a fortune cookie: Pay debts large and small. Cast aside any grudges.
4. Take a tropical vacation. The Upland Tropical Rain Forest, on the fifth floor of the National Aquarium in Baltimore, is toasty warm and humid. You walk through the exhibit of tropical plants, 30 species of birds, reptiles (OK, maybe they aren't a selling point), turtles, tamarind monkeys and sloths. You can order tickets online at www.aqua.org or simply show up. (There is timed entry.) Hours on Jan. 1 are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
5. Still chilly? Have a chili party. One local expatriate remembers her home state on New Year's Day with a Texas open house. She serves lots of Southwest specialties like chili, cornbread, smoked turkey, black-eyed peas for good luck, some Mexican dishes and pecan pie. The one rule: no TV, just music and conversation.
6. Lift off. Visit the National Air and Space Museum's new Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles. Some 135 spacecraft and 200 aircraft are on display, like the space shuttle Enterprise and the B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay. Admission is free; parking is $12. The center is open on New Year's Day from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. For more information, call 202-357-2700 or go to the center's Web site at www.nasm.si.edu / udvarhazy.
7. Or visit a museum closer to home. The Baltimore Museum of Art is closed, but the Walters Art Museum is open on New Year's Day. Enjoy the French countryside (as it was in the 19th century, anyway) with the current exhibition, "The Road to Impressionism: Landscapes from Corot to Monet," featuring works by Corot, Millet, Rousseau and Daubigny. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call 410-547-9000 or go to www.thewalters.org for more information.
8. Listen to this. The music doesn't stop at midnight when the new year rolls in. Coming up Saturday, Jan. 1:
Particle, the jam band, is performing at Nightclub 9:30 with the Low Life in Washington. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are available through tickets.com.
The Birchmere in Alexandria, Va., is having a Hank Williams Tribute at 7:30 p.m. (www.birchmere.com).
For something a little less honky tonk, there's Salute to Vienna (light operetta and waltzing) at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall at 3 p.m. (410-783-8000).
9. Play cards. If you know enough bridge, and bridge players, set up a couple of duplicate tables. If you last played in college, plan on a giddy bridge as opposed to a grim bridge party (in other words, rubber bridge with social chitchat allowed). If bridge isn't your game, how about Texas Hold em? To get started, visit www.texasholdem-poker.com.
10. Tennis anyone? Some but not all of the area's indoor tennis clubs are open on New Year's Day. Call first for hours, rates and court availability:
Baltimore Fitness & Tennis, Pikesville, 410-653-0166
Big Vanilla Tennis Club, Arnold, 410-544-2525
Cross Keys Tennis Club, Baltimore, 410-433-1800
Orchard Indoor Tennis Club, Baltimore, 410-821-6206
Perring Athletic Club, Baltimore, 410-661-9220
Twin Lakes Racquet Club, Baltimore, 410-655-3744