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Holidays in DC & Winter blues

Updated: Jan 7

I recently wrote in a post that I never liked living in or around DC. But when I moved here in June, I decided this was going to change. Now it's six months later, so time to evaluate.


I start feeling at home here. I've done lots of fun things, like diving into the many cultural and outdoor activities DC has to offer. I’ve seen more plays since I got here than I have in the past five years, and I happily picked up long distance running again—a hobby that proved impossible to maintain in Armenia.


What also helped was feeling like everything in my life was in order, of course. Finally having job security makes a huge difference on a mental level. But on a practical level it’s also about settling in—making new friends, or catching up with the old ones, buying a car to get around, and decorating the apartment with paintings and houseplants.


It took a bit of organization, but I don't mind that, and now I’m happy to live in Falls Church. I even get a kick out of knowing where everything is; the library, vegan restaurants, the dry cleaners, etc. Because I constantly move, driving around without the help of Google Maps is almost unheard of for me!


But then winter came...


Unfortunately, I inevitably fall victim to the winter blues, no matter where I am. When I was younger, it started even earlier—as soon as leaves started to fall off trees, signaling that the summer season was over, I’d start feeling mildly depressed. For me, summer has always been what life's about. Spring and Fall were tolerable, as long as it didn't rain, which it did a lot in the Netherlands, but I never liked Winter (except when I'm skiing).


Not even Christmas can cheer me up, really. Sure, the holidays are cozy, but I’m just not a pork-roast-and-hot-chocolate kinda girl. I’d rather eat avocado toast and drink cold beer. As for the presents under the Christmas tree? I have nothing to complain about: my husband brought me emerald earrings from India this year! But who needs presents if you could be swimming in the sea, or make a bonfire? For me, the summer just has so much more to offer.


To make sure I don't completely lose it during this time of the year, I stay busy. Google is helpful. When I searched for “things to do in DC in December” I found lots of great suggestions. In fact, by the end of December we followed most of them.


Our holiday calendar


We saw the National Christmas Tree at the White House, which came all the way from New Mexico this year. But it was crowded and not so impressive considering there are several other large Christmas trees in much nicer parts of town.


On Christmas Eve, we went out for a family dinner at Cafe Mozart. There was live piano music and we ordered hearty Austrian dishes. But we had to force-feed the kids, who acted like they'd rather be anywhere else.


The National Cathedral had a kids Christmas service, with live animals, on the day of Christmas Eve. All kids received angel hair bands and the program included an abbreviated birth story and the singing of well-known Christmas songs. My 6-yo old son, however, couldn’t focus for even a minute and I spent the entire time begging him to shut up.


We even went to Enchant: the "world's largest Christmas Light Maze and Market" at the Nationals Park. The line for ice-skating was too long to even consider, so the only activity was walking around the maze looking for Santa's reindeer: Rudolph, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner and Blitzen. We were skeptical, but the kids loved it.


I did some Christmas shopping. At Tyson’s Corner, my favorite mall around here, I found some amazing deals. The Loft charged only $20 for my favorite pair of work slacks! But it wasn't easy to get there; it was immensely crowded and there were no parking spots at all.


We went to the movies and saw Frozen 2. On a cold and wet winter day, there’s nothing better than going to a show—ideally theater, but movies work too. The movie is okay, but it's a tearjerker, which is not what I needed!


I also visited two Smithsonians, took the kids to Jumping Joeys, went to a karaoke night with some A-100 friends at Four Courts...


It's not you, it's me...


Do I sound crazy yet? When I write this down I certainly feel crazy. We did a lot of nice things this week and was lucky enough to have family over. Yet all I can think about is how long this damn winter is going to last. What happened to my usual optimism?


I'm actually looking forward to going back to work next week, because my German studies give me a sense of tangible progress. Days go by quicker when I have to use my brain, and I feel more accomplished when I do a good job in class than when I'm at home trying to come up with yet another activity my kids don't really care about--they're just as happy going to the playground every day and, like me, they actually enjoy going to school.