Tuesday, December 28, 2010

christmas and, um, more D.C.

On the eve of Christmas Eve, my man watched me spin about the house, pulling my hair out and muttering to myself about the birthday cookies I still hadn't made for my dad and the Christmas gift I still hadn't started for my mom and all the packing and wrapping and shopping we still had yet to do.  He was sprawled on the couch in his boxers, sneezing and coughing and blowing his nose.  Hun, he said, You're never going to get all of that done so why don't you just relax and have fun.  It's Christmas.  And so we did.

The next morning we strapped on our skis, headed out the front door (you know life is good when you can say "front door" and "skis" in the same sentence) and found us a Christmas Tree.

After the full-bodied glory of the Capitol tree, we opted for something a little Charlie Brownish that would fit in our teeny tiny living room and not brush the woodstove.  I cut and hauled our little tree and it felt so good to be outside and bringing something home for my family.  I *almost* felt like I was dragging in a deer.  

Once lit and decorated, Juniper was all about Christmas-tree-worship, pointing and saying, Dah? with her eyebrows raised.

Christmas itself was a small, nuclear affair.  In our minds, we'd already had one Christmas back east with my husband's family, and we'll have a third Christmas this coming weekend on the west coast with my family.  So our Christmas day here at the homestead looked something like this:
Yes, Osa got some T-bone treats in her stocking and Juniper thoroughly enjoyed teasing her and...eventually...feeding her the treats.  Contrary to popular belief, J bug was not that into wrapping paper.  She landed a nice catch of toys and books and clothes and her first sleeping bag, but when it came down to it, she liked the T-bones the best.  (Most likely because they didn't belong to her.  Funny how well she knows that distinction now.)  

I am so sorry but this is, as they say, my party and I'm not done with Washington D.C.
 Now we're getting to the stuff I remember from 25 years ago; but who could possibly forget the Washington monument?  During our stay, it functioned as our landmark, compass, and timepiece (we knew, from there, how long it would take to walk to most places) all in one.  And dang, aren't those ^ clouds pretty?

Whenever Juniper was ready for a nap, we bundled her up and went for a walk.  Hence the ubiquitous blue coat and orange stroller.  Watch for it.  

Also, I remember Lincoln's hands.  Funny what stood out in relief in my ten-year-old mind.      

But nothing stands out in my memory quite like this:
I remember the big, fat phonebook-list of names.  I remember my dad paging through it saying, I went to school with him,...my sister dated him,...I served with him,....  That wall and that book and my dad paging through it brought a soldier's war home to my ten-year-old heart in a way I didn't know was possible.  Even now, I can think of no other  military memorial to war that lists the costs so simply, so poignantly.

:: One lazy Sunday we strolled around Capitol Hill's surrounding neighborhood, laughing at the "Emergency Snow Route" signs and stopping at the Eastern Market for lunch and possible Christmas shopping.
Both of us said we could live in D.C. if we knew it would be for a short time, like 6 months or a year.  A bold statement (and a testament to our capitol city), considering we love living in its polar opposite.   

Whenever Juniper woke up, we would park indoors out of the bristly tidal basin chill, get food, and let J bugs stretch her legs and work her stride.
A long, relaxed, afternoon coffee break at Union Station.
 ^Juniper really hates it when we try to hold her hand, but my man was afraid she would slip and split her head open on the marble floor.^
:: Where's the gopher hole?  Was an oft-repeated question amongst our Wyoming clan.  The metro proved to be a cakewalk, even with our hulky stroller.  The hardest part was figuring out which "gopher hole" to pop out of.
The National Museum of American History...how could you not love it?  Dorothy's ruby slippers, Apollo Ono's ice skates, the actual bar and four bar stools of the Greensboro Woolworth lunch counter....
 I remember this museum as a kid.  Most exhibits have changed enormously (and for the better--something in my memory wants to bring up a wax museum of past Presidents...), but I particularly remember seeing the First Lady's inaugural gowns.  And I wanted to see them again.  Juniper had a couple of fussy episodes in D.C.  One was in the National Archives where J bug tested the acoustics of the rotunda while my husband and I took turns between the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence (acoustics were very good, by the way) and the other was in the First Lady's Smithsonian exhibit.  My man's interest in Martha Washington's and Michele Obama's dresses weren't as deep as mine, so he entertained her with the only thing that struck her interest: Laura Bush's sparkly, bright red gown.  I don't remember much about Laura, but thank goodness she chose the libertine color of red (a choice, I learned, influenced by her dressmaker who said she would have the only red dress in the Smithsonian collection).

:: The zoo had just recently re-opened and most big-ticket animals (like elephants) were missing, but June bug got nose-to-nose with a croc, laughed at turtles and beat on the glass wall of the gorilla cage.  
  All enjoyed in the company of the other Capitol Christmas tree kids:
 ^The little girl dressed in black loved Juniper and is singularly responsible for teaching bugs to wave hello and bye-bye.^   

::  Our last night in Washington (drumroll please...)
Check out that handsome feller.  

So the big story of the night--appearing in speeches from Nancy Pelosi to the Deputy Undersecretary of the somethingorother (we attended 2 whoop-la parties before the lighting and one after)--was how when Wyoming first stepped up to volunteer the tree, nobody was sure if the least populated state would be able to come up with 5,000 ornaments.  Well, holy cow if the good people of Wyoming didn't pump out 17,000 handmade ornaments to decorate the Capitol tree as well as the 70-some companion trees.  

As I mentioned before, bugs slept through it--military band and all.  
But at the post-lighting whoop-la, June bug woke up and partied with her new friends.  Here she is, super excited about a toy train circling the botanical gardens:   

I hope you all had a joyful Christmas holiday!  Tomorrow we are off again (I KNOW) for our annual family clamming on the west coast. 

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