Santa Claus

Years ago I found out one fact about the stores and attractions in downtown Washington, DC on Christmas Eve. They tend to be less crowded because most people are either jamming the suburban malls (due to the fact that they waited until the last minute to begin their Christmas shopping) or they are home making very elaborate time-consuming prepartions for their holidays (especially if they are expecting out-of-town guests). In the past I have purchased something from a downtown DC store on Christmas Eve with few people ahead of me in line. On top of it, the museums tend to be almost empty on Christmas Eve.

I had originally thought about checking out the National Zoo because they have this very elaborate light display that’s supposed to be very impressive after dark. However, it rained that day, which you can see in the below photos.

Washington, DC, December 24, 2012
Washington, DC, December 24, 2012

Instead I took the Metro to Union Station where I ate lunch. In previous years the Norweigan embassy would put up this elaborate model train display based on Norweigan culture and terrain that included a recreation of a Norweigan village and happy trolls among the mountain. This YouTube video should give you an idea as to what it looked like.

Near the toy train display there would be displays on a different aspect of Norweigan culture whose topic would change from year to year. (One year when it was the Christmas before the Winter Olympics Lillehammer, there was a display all about Lillehammer. Another year the display focused on the indigenous people who lived above Norway’s Artic Circle.) I hadn’t been to Union Station in a few years because last year I was still recovering from hip surgery and the year before I was busy participating in a lot of local art and craft shows. So I decided to go to Union Station on Christmas Eve as an indoor alternative to going to the zoo.

When I arrived at Union Station this year I was disappointed. There were no displays about Norway at all. There was a model train display but it was way smaller than the one that the Norweigan embassy used to display. Heck, it was pretty small compared to the model train display at Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, Maryland. I glanced at it for a minute then walked away.

I didn’t stay too long at Union Station. I decided to go back on the Metro and take it to Metro Center. I walked over to the National Museum of Women in the Arts because I had heard about a special exhibit that I wanted to check out and, since it was raining and since this exhibit is scheduled to end on January 6, I decided to spend the bulk of Christmas Eve there.

The exhibit I saw was called The Women Who Rock and it was organized by the National Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. This exhibit showed the outfits, music instruments, and other related artifacts from women like Joan Jett, Cher, Aretha Franklin, Britney Spears, and Lady Gaga. There were some video displays featuring vintage performances from the likes of Blondie and Abba. Viewing that exhibit brought back memories of the two times that my husband and I visited the National Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on two separate trips to Cleveland. I stayed there just gawking at all the items in the exhibit until a security guard walked around announcing that the entire museum was closing soon.

I decided to go back to the Metro Center subway stop via Macy’s. I saw that the store wasn’t too crowded and it was possible for a person to do some last-minute Christmas shopping that was stress-free. It was ironic that the Macy’s in downtown DC wasn’t too crowded while the other Macy’s in the suburban shopping malls were probably bursting at the seams with tons of people fighting for parking space and standing in long checkout lines.

I went back home and I managed to honor one family tradition despite my husband’s abrupt walkout three days after Christmas last year. I made and ate the traditional Christmas Eve corn chowder then froze the rest for leftovers.

On Christmas Day I visited my mother and cousins and their home. It was a fun visit that took my mind off the fact that it was the first Christmas Day since my husband’s walkout. When I returned home I made saurbraten from a recipe in The Joy of Cooking (which was a bridal shower present from my late grandmother) and cooked up some German-imported spaetzel noodles that I found at Wegman’s. It has been a number of years since I made saurbraten and I thought it would be a cool Christmas dinner to make for myself. In addition, I was able to bring the leftovers to this Christmas party that was held just a few days later by my support group for people who are separated or divorced.

I had Internet problems on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day so I wasn’t online very much and I didn’t check my e-mail at all. When I finally got around to checking my e-mail on December 26, I was thrown into an emotional tailspin when I found that my husband had e-mailed divorce papers in a .pdf format in a message that was dated December 24. That’s right, he sent divorce papers via e-mail on Christmas Eve.

I was so glad I didn’t check my e-mail on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day because I would’ve felt that my holiday was totally ruined. To say that I have totally lost all respect and affection for my husband for what he did would be an understatement. That action made the Grinch’s attempt to steal Christmas from the residents of Whoville seem sweet and gentle by comparison. I’m only surprised that my husband didn’t include a link to this video along with the divorce petition.

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