It’s Christmas in D.C. again, and I can’t believe it’s been a year already since I wrote about my first holiday season here.
My first taste of holiday cheer came unexpectedly on a hiking trail last weekend. A guy I’ve been spending time with, Ted, has a tradition of hiking Sugarloaf Mountain this time of year and invited me along on a spontaneous outing that required renting a car since neither of us has vehicles. He said we might encounter a “surprise,” and indeed we did: just a little while onto the trail we came upon a couple of trees mysteriously decorated with Christmas ornaments, including a very appropriate miniature hiking boot.
Then the other night I joined some friends on an outing to the Mormon temple, which dominates the Beltway with its imposing structure that looks a lot like the Cinderella castle at Disney World. The grounds were like a Christmas fairyland, with trees all decked out in holiday lights, and inside the visitor center was a display of nativity sets from around the world. The Mormons present a concert each night during the season and tonight’s was a fabulous handbell choir that included not just the ringing of handbells of all sizes and tones but also drumming on them, tapping them on a cushioned surface and shaking long tubes of various sizes and tones, too.
Today I went on a museum walk, starting and ending at the National Geographic Society. Most of it was non-holiday exhibits, but we did get to the National Gallery of Art, where the lobby was all decked out with poinsettias, hydrangea, orchids and Christmas trees adorned ith sparkling white lights. A high school choir led people in Christmas carols and also performed some numbers on their own.
Three of us cheated on the walk and grabbed a bus to get back to the National Geographic Society in time to catch the end of an Anglo-Saxon wassailing celebration. All the wassail was gone, but we did sample cyser, a fermented honey beverage that was very tasty, and each tried on a (surprisingly heavy) chain mail.
We then walked down to the Ellipse, the grounds in front of the White House, to see the national Cchristmas tree and the state and territory trees. It was still a bit hard to see the ornaments encased in plastic balls often filled with condensation, but it was better than last year when I had cataracts to further obscure the view.
The walk to the Metro had us pass the very festive Willard Hotel and other buildings adorned with lights and wreaths.
What a great way to kick off the holiday season!