National Harbor Christmas Tree
The National Harbor Christmas Tree in all its shining splendor. Every year, there must be at least ten tree lighting ceremonies within a 15-mile radius of where we live. Every year, these events seem to be starting much earlier than the previous year. This year, the tree lighting at the National Harbor took place on the 14th of November. Yes, that's right - the 14th! Long before the turkeys eat their last meal; long before the Thanksgiving paraphernalia leaves the supermarket shelves; long before I wear my stretchable fleece pants to Thanksgiving dinner. (Before we go further, I'd just like you to know that I accidentally watermarked my photos with the logo of my other blog. These photos were all taken by me, moi, and no one else but me. Thank you :) )
After our attempt to make it to the actual ceremony where we waited in a long line of traffic along with hundreds of others for almost 20 minutes to just get to the exit, not including the other long lines we had to wait in to get to parking, and the other long lines once we got a parking structure...you get the picture, we decided to abandon the whole craziness and just go on another day. The tree will be lit and the crowds will have disappeared. We were right. We returned and actually made it to the National Harbor on Monday for our Family Home Evening activity. A kind soul offered to take a picture of all three of us by the tree. This happens so rarely for me to be in the picture that I jumped at the chance. I guess I should just remember to ask!
The National Harbor was almost deserted in comparison to a couple of nights before. We were able to let Gracie run around, chase some birds and say hello to people. We were able to hold hands and stroll across the streets, cuddled up a bit to fight the cold winds that blew from time to time, and have a peaceful (somewhat) time. I say somewhat because once Gracie sees a set of stairs, she HAS to climb up or go down and repeat that a hundred times. No idea where she got this fiercely independent streak from..ahem.
Doesn't Aaron look handsome in this picture? I know. You don't have to answer that. I am just talking out loud but I love this picture of him. Of the two of them. The loves of my life. Aaron is a wonderful daddy, and Gracie thrives on that close bond she has with her "Dah".
I know you don't believe me when I tell you that there were thousands of people stuck in traffic trying to get to the tree lighting event just two days before I took this picture, but, honestly, the best decision was to come back later and enjoy the lit tree and the crowd-free zone. And, yes, that is a Peeps store right below the tree. An entire store dedicated to Peeps! Ah, America!
An interesting fact about the National Harbor is that is used to be a 300-acre plantation with a huge plantation house and an incredible view of the water. The plantation house burned down in 1981 and it was offered for sale along with the land in 1984. It was then re-zoned as a multi-use property and Phase One of the property was opened in 2008. One of its main amusements includes the Capital Wheel - a 175-foot Ferris wheel that extends out into the Potomac. That, coupled with the sculpture of the giant titled "Awakening" makes it a fun place to spend an evening. The Harbor boasts some great restaurants, movie theaters, stores, outlet mall, and some amazing photo opportunities.
Despite the cold, Gracie kicked off her shoes and was climbing up the embankments alongside the Potomac to point out something in the water. I had to literally grab her and pin her down before she launched herself in. Since there is always a silver lining, here is a rare picture of Gracie and Mommy, who is almost always behind the camera. Grace looks almost divine in this picture and one would never know the heights of squirmy she can achieve :) I love this little girl!
We waited around for the sun to set, so we could actually see the lights of the Wheel and the tree, and we were not disappointed. The sunset, in and of itself, was stunning. With that backdrop, the Capital Wheel looked amazing!
You will notice that the Wheel was lit in the colors of the Paris flag to pay homage and pronounce America's solidarity and friendship with France.
We watched the Christmas tree light up against the fading blue of the sky as the sun slowly set, and marveled at how another year is coming to a close. Aaron and I tend to think back over the whole year and talk about the things that we have accomplished and things that we can look forward to next year. We strolled over to Nando Peri Peri and had some delicious lemon-herb chicken and Peri fries. Gracie ate more than half my dinner and was ready for bed, since she had skipped a morning nap and played at the Chinquapin Rec Center's soft play room. It was a wonderful evening and some quality family time. Glad we waited and came back to enjoy the beauty of our surroundings.