Having recently returned to the States, I am eager to immerse myself in Christmas spirit. While Shanghai did its best to decorate for the holidays, the effect was often more comical than festive. America, on the other hand, revels in seasonal cheer. When I heard Christmas tunes blaring from stores at the mall the day after Halloween, I gleefully hummed along! Now that we’re well into December, I’m dreaming about honey-baked ham and finding chocolates my stocking. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the season in Washington, DC.
The first stop on my Christmas Express was Old Town Alexandria, about 10 kilometers from downtown DC and easily reached by subway. The quaint cobbled sidewalks and century-old buildings of this historic Virginia neighborhood were the perfect backdrop to my search for yuletide festivities. Lampposts were wrapped with garlands and red ribbons, tree trunks twinkled with tiny white lights, and shop windows were filled with tree ornaments of every size, shape and color.
The main reason for my visit to Old Town on that cold, blustery night was to watch the Holiday Boat Parade of Lights, an annual event that begins in the Alexandria marina. Dozens of vessels, ranging from small sailboats to luxury yachts, don their best holiday light display and cruise up the Potomac River until they reach Washington. Thousands gathered on the docks of the Alexandria Waterfront, cups of Starbucks hot chocolate in hand, to watch this year’s parade.
The boats were impressively lit with displays ranging from Rudolph’s antlers and shiny red nose to a giant blue and white menorah in honor of Hanukkah. One boisterous boat even pulled Santa behind in a dingy! The crowd favorite was the iconic leg lamp from A Christmas Story, one of the most beloved American Christmas films of all time. It was the perfect way to kick-off my quest for holiday cheer.
How do you celebrate the holidays?