Saturday, January 12, 2008

Christmas in DC: Family Traditions

Before we get too far away from Christmas, a little recap of things to do in DC at Christmastime. Note, we did all of these things in one long day of the 22nd as part of our family Christmas Party in Washington (all cousins, aunts, maternal grandparents). Will repeat next year.

1. National Cathedral Children's Nativity Reenactment
This takes place the Saturday afternoon before Christmas and is perfect for little kids. The beauty of "Andrew's favorite castle" adds to the wonderful Christmas spirit. It was also nice to see that our attempts to teach Andrew the Christmas story had been successful. After the introduction of each cast of characters, Andrew would wonder where the remaining characters were. "Where are the angels?" after the Holy Family arrived; "where the animals?" after the shepherds.

Until this event, we had no way of knowing whether he understood there was anything more to the first Christmas than the scenes he enacted with the little plastic Nativity set he received as a party favor. These scenes involved the donkey and sheep biting (and I hate to admit, but sometimes eating) baby Jesus until Mary comes to rescue Him with her soothing "sh, sh, sh!"

2. Botanical Gardens Christmas Exhibit:
This featured wonderful little train sets, both inside the building and out, and the city of Washington in miniature cerca 1920 set amidst enormous and beautifully decorated Christmas trees (again, with a train running through.) We went twice, once during the day with friends and again on the evening of the 22nd. I recommend the night viewing because it made the lighting in the exhibit that much more magical.

3. National Christmas tree and reindeer:
We did this, also the night of the 22nd. It was fine, but would have been better if it had not been so cold and Andrew so thoroughly un-napped and the grounds so very swamped with hordes of people.

4. Dinner out with desserts afterwards at our apartment
This didn't take place as planned. No reservations plus not sticking to original time frame plus tired kids = picking up pizzas at the local pizza parlor. They were delicious. Even my dad, who hates pizza (and anything that isn't red meat, still very very red, really) loved it. If we were to eat out, though, we would have done it at 2 Amy's, a wonderful and family-friendly pizza place at Wisonsin Ave and Macomb. If we had no budgetary considerations, we would have done it at 1789.

5. White Elephant on a small budget:
No one brought anything, so I wrapped up a bunch of stuff laying around my house. The kids were thrilled with their winnings: dandruff shampoo, a little picture frame I've had for 3 years and never put anything in, McDonald's toys, flower seeds, CDs from the Gap we somehow acquired. Andrew opened the frame and rejoiced over it, jumping up and down and exclaiming, "Andrew got a present! Look, look!" The frame went home with Emma, however, who wisely traded him her crappy McDonald's car. Everyone was happy.

6. Reenact Luke 2
Didn't do it. Next year.

7. Christmas Eve at an Indian restaurant in McLean
After the McLean Ward Christmas carol program. Lots of fun, but Dad swore of Indian for good after this. They don't serve hamburgers.

8. Train Display at Union Station
Will do next year.

9. Driving through Pimmit Hills to look at the over-the-top decorations on one of the houses. The owner had been putting out an extravagent display for many many years. It was something of a local legend, and his house attracted basically everyone in the area to do a drive-by during late December. He is very elderly now, and when he became too feeble to put up his display, the fire department came to sustain the tradition. I love it. Other houses in the neighborhood follwed his lead to please the crowds. Its great.


Paul & Sarah said...

Those sound like really fun Christmas traditions. It's amazing that I grew up in the DC area and never participated (or heard of, for the msot part) any of these. Sad, I know!

Alexandra said...

me, either. it was only because we live right by the cathedral and hear the bells ring all the time that it even occurred to me to look up their christmas schedule. if you guys are around the area next christmas, we'll have to do this stuff!