Tis' the Season

Tis' the Season

Eggnog, it’s not for everyone.  For me, there is nothing more revealing of the holiday season’s arrival than lounging back with a tall glass of eggnog and a reindeer shaped cookie. But for others, eggnog is an unpleasantly thick mixture of milk, cream, and yes, egg yolk. That aside, I was determined to bring the joy of nog to my friends in D.C.  I had half my body in the fridge before I effectively grasped the last carton of regular eggnog (that cinnamon flavored kind is just terrible) at Harris Teeter. The cashier gave me a funny look as I passed him the contents of my basket: eggnog, Tollhouse cookies, and a bag of carrot sticks. Back at the Residential Academic Facility (the RAF), I joined up with my friends, popped the cookies in the oven, and flipped to the ABC’s 25 days of Christmas. I served the eggnog with the cookies and I’m proud to report that only 1 out of 5 spit his nog back into his glass in disgust!


Returning after a long weekend spent home for Thanksgiving, it seemed D.C. had had a seasonal face-lift.  Wreaths twice my height dangled from buildings’ arch ways, glowing trees lined the streets, and office orchids had been replaced by small bushes of holly.  Before I left home, I grabbed my winter coat out of the closet.  When I moved in back in August, hauling my luggage up the stairs, covered in sweat, I didn’t think it could ever get chilly in Washington D.C. But with the coming of bell ringing Santas so has the cold. Its official, winter is here. My weekends, suddenly packed with winter-y plans that I've found on Free in D.C., dcist, and the Washington Post.


Lucky for me, the National Zoological Park holds the same strange affinity for lights in the shape of animals as I do.  December weekend evenings, the zoo hosts Zoolights. For this event, the zoo is draped in colorful lights, winding their way up trees and across fences, shaped artfully in the forms of panda bears and lizards. The stroll through the colorful wonderland was made perfect by a cup of hot chocolate spiked with peppermint schnapps. I bought it at a concession stand near a tree wrapped entirely in blue lights.  Friends linked arm and arm; we traipsed through the small mammal building and across light be-decked bridges.


Our charming evening at the zoo was followed by ice skating the next morning. I’m not a very good ice skater; my childhood escapades on the ice typically left me with a black and blue bottom. But when in Rome! (err – when in the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden in D.C.). My friends didn’t necessarily have to drag me to go ice skating, but they did do a fair amount of dragging while we were out on the ice. I grabbed the back of my friend’s sweatshirt and had her pull me around while I focused on keeping my sore feet from tilting inwards in my rented, brown skates. The National Archives watched over us, waiting for me to fall. I thankfully managed not to embarrass myself. It was a fun afternoon, but after about an hour, I was giddier to get those loathsome skates off my feet than I was to put them on in the first place.

 

 

Our next holiday activity brought us down to the Waterfront.  Bundled in winter coats, hats, and gloves, the group of us hunched together on cement seats along the water.  Although the evening air was frigid under the setting sun, conversation kept us warm.  It wasn’t long before we spotted the smallest twinkle of colored light on the horizon.  Coming up the Washington Channel was a full-fledged parade of boats encased in strings of colorful lights and blow-up snowmen.  Cheerful and intoxicated captains dressed in Santa costumes hollered “Ho Ho Ho” from their decks. We yelled back from the shore, our bodies pressed against the metal rail across the boardwalk, waving in excitement.

 


It’s nice to be in a city during the holiday season. There’s so much going on. I’ve seen dozens of Santas and millions of lights. At the Christmas tree lighting in front of the Capitol Building, was offered my first, shy, “Merry Christmas” of the year from a sweet old man standing next to me during the ceremony. It is the season where you can be amongst thousands and still feel a part of a community.

 

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