So far, my life has pretty much followed the trajectory of this Oatmeal comic about celebrating Christmas. Last year, the only way any of Tom’s gifts got wrapped is if I paid Amazon to do it, and we had a Christmas tree primarily because friends of ours with a kid were going to get one and we wanted to hang out with them.
This year, when we are a family of three, it’s like we’ve suddenly rediscovered Christmas. Must light the Advent wreath! Must find the perfect Baby’s First Christmas ornament and stocking! Let’s all stomp around together in the mud at the Christmas tree farm! WE ARE MAKING MEMORIES, DAMMIT; never you mind that the Bridgelet is not actually capable of forming specific memories yet.
But even with me still home on maternity leave, between the demands of baby care, the minimum of housework needed to keep our home from sliding from “happily imperfect” into “abject squalor,” Tom’s job, and then Christmas prep on top… we haven’t had that much time to engage in actual, you know, holiday fun.
So, as they say, we need a little Christmas. Right this very minute, even. Here are my picks for some stroller-friendly ways to celebrate Christmas DC-style (or just look at some pretty lights, if Christmas is not your holiday) as a family without wearing yourself out (and with the weather forecast looking positively balmy this weekend, it’s a great time to get out there).
Zoolights - The National Zoo gets all decked out for the holidays, and between 5 and 9 you can stroll through, admire the lights, check out the nocturnal animals, and have some hot chocolate. (Grownups can get it spiked. Aw, yeah.) The zoo is free but parking is not, or you can walk over from the Woodley Park Metro.
The Bishop’s House - The home of the Bishop of the United House of Prayer for All People on 16th Street NW, this enormous house gets the full-on Griswold treatment and it attracts visitors from all over the area.
The Mormon Temple Lights - You’ll need a car for this one, since the Temple is in Kensington, but since the Temple already looks like a fantasy story castle even before they put 600,000 Christmas lights on it, it’s worthwhile. The Visitors Center is open daily until 10PM, and there are nightly musical performances at 7PM. Free tickets for that night’s performance become available 90 minutes in advance, but viewing the lights on the Temple grounds does not require a ticket.
The National Christmas Tree and Pathway of Peace - If you’ve lived here more than a year or two, you know the drill: The National Tree, plus 56 smaller trees representing the 50 states, the District, and US Territories, decorated with ornaments contributed by your fellow citizens. Enjoy the hilarious griping on Yelp by people who think the tree should be bigger when you, being an in-the-know WLDC reader, know that the tree varies because sometimes the tree is taken out by winds and has to be replanted.
Bonus: There’s a Santa’s Workshop where you can have your kid’s photo taken with Santa. The photo will have a big Underwriters Laboratories logo watermarked on it, but look at it this way- if you’re telling your kids that all the bell-ringing Santas and mall Santas work for the real Santa, then the National Santa on the Ellipse clearly must be the big guy’s Ambassador to the United States of America, right? In our house, we call him Santa Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary.
The US Botanical Garden - USBG’s massive train display is the best known part of its holiday exhibit, with a track winding through a variety of model buildings made from plant materials. But they also have a display of plant-material models of DC landmarks, a huge Christmas tree, and a poinsettia showcase. This one’s indoors, so it’s a great one to catch when the weather turns cold again.