I’m doing the holidays a bit haphazardly and fly-by-the-seat-of-my-skirt-ey this year. It’s been fun, but it makes small talk very strange and complicated.
Person making small talk: So, where are you girls from?
Me: I’m from Oregon.
Angie: And I’m from Delaware.
Person making small talk: So…what are you doing in Washington DC on Christmas eve?
Me: Well, my brother lives here. But he went to Oregon for Christmas. I couldn’t afford to go until January 4, but it’s okay, we’re having our family Christmas later anyway. He said I could stay in his apartment.
Angie: And my sisters are having Christmas with their in-laws, so I decided to come spend Christmas here too.
Person making small talk that’s now turning into big talk: And…how do you two know each other? College?
Angie: No, actually, she lived with me for a month. See, she’s doing this thing where she lives in a different place each month…
Once people start asking questions, the explanations are never ending, and far more numerous than anyone asked for. Awkwardness ensues. I guess I’m living a pretty atypical life at the moment.
We each had something in the city we particularly wanted to do. Angie wanted to go to the Passion City Church for their Christmas Eve service, because she’d watched Youtube videos of the pastor, Ben Stuart, and knew he was a good preacher. I wanted to go to the Christmas Day service at the National Cathedral, because my mom went to the cathedral once and was in absolute awe.
Angie got in Christmas eve, and after a brief rest we went down to the subway and attempted to find our way to Passion City Church. It was remarkably easy. The green line went basically from the back door of Matt’s apartment to the back door of the church.
Based on Angie’s description of Ben Stuart’s preaching abilities, as well as the church’s affiliation with the Passion conference, I assumed we’d be in a mega church. We weren’t. Oh, it was bigger than Brownsville I guess, but it had a small church feel. Chat-with-the-preacher-on-your-way-out-the-door small.
It was like the perfect modern church service. Great worship band. Fantastic and engaging sermon. Theologically sound. Great chats with the friendly people around us who call Passion City home. Candles for everyone.
We were hungry after the service, so we rode the subway to Chinatown in search of food.
Long story short, we ended up at a busy McDonalds with no seating. We decided to streamline things by using the self-order stands. Which was a bad idea.
First, my screen went back to the start screen after I’d inserted my credit card. No recipt. Did the order go through or not? I had to get in the looooong line after all, just to ask.
Apparently it did go through, and I was given my cheeseburgers. Angie, however, had to wait ages for her food. The restaurant closed. The orders disappeared from the screen one by one. Still Angie had no food.
Finally, the lady called out Angie’s number. As she reached for it, a cute guy reached out too. “I think that’s mine,” he said teasingly.
“No,” said Angie, taking her food and heading for the soda dispenser.
“You’re beautiful!” He called after her, just to make sure she knew he was flirting.
“Thank you,” she said without turning around.
I was highly amused by this incident, especially when Angie told me that she didn’t even notice that he was cute. “I just wanted my food!” She said.
Usually I’m the one who doesn’t notice when guys are cute. But maybe I noticed because I thought his joke was funny, and Angie didn’t notice because she was not amused.
Note to men: joking about taking food from a hungry woman is not an effective flirtation technique.
We went home to eat our food while watching White Christmas.
The next morning we put a youtube video of a fire on the TV, played Christmas carols, and opened the gifts we’d purchased for each other.
Spoiler alert: we bought each other mugs. She also gave me a small box of tea.
After that we dressed and went to the National Cathedral.
The cathedral was a bit of a walk from the subway station, but we were walking through the most enchanting neighborhood.
“Do you hear the music?”
“Yes, what is that?”
“It’s the church bells!”
We rounded the corner, and there it was. Huge. Magnificent.
Well, the pictures I took don’t remotely do it justice, so this is the only one I’ll post.
The cathedral service was the perfect old-fashioned Christmas service. Huge and awe inspiring. Church bells. Organ and choir music. Scripture readings and liturgy.
It was breathtaking.
I generally avoid driving in the city but I realized that I could have easily driven to that service. The roads were empty and there was plenty of street parking, free because it was Christmas.
So here’s a tip for all you Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, etc people who are just a few hours from the city. If you want to see the cathedral but don’t like traffic and paying for parking, consider coming Christmas day.
However, if you do so, coming early would be a good idea. Angie and I arrived right on the dot, and all the best seats were taken.
Back home after the service we embarked on the task of making Christmas dinner.
First, the oven didn’t work. We decided to fry the ham.
Then, my attempt at mashed potatoes turned into such a gluey mess that the beaters wouldn’t even spin. It was lumpy and sticky and awful.
I googled. Apparently red potatoes make gluey mashed potatoes. Here I thought I was saving time by buying potatoes I didn’t have to peel, LOL.
“We could make baked potatoes instead,” said Angie.
“The oven doesn’t work.”
“Well, we could fry potatoes.”
So Angie sliced potatoes very thin and fried them up. The broccoli turned out fine, and overall we had a fantastic, if a bit breakfast-like, meal.
We ate, lounged around, took naps, and then decided to hit the town again.
We ended up walking down the National Mall, checking out all the outdoor monuments. Then, tired of walking around, we sat on the steps of the Lincoln memorial and chatted.
The cold wormed itself into our bones.
“Where’s the nearest metro station?”
Angie checked on her phone. We had to use hers, because I’d forgotten mine at home. “We could walk to this one up here.”
“Or look! We could walk across the bridge and catch the Arlington cemetery metro! It would be so magical, walking across the bridge at night!”
So we took a loooooong walk across the bridge, and it wasn’t quite as magical as I’d hoped, due to aching feet and bones.
“What’s that?” Angie asked when we were across the bridge. A white wall loomed up in front of us.
“I don’t know.”
We found an elevator that led to the metro. But we were so close to the big white wall, we just had to check it out.
So we kept walking.
A strange phenomenon occurred. We might as well have been on a treadmill, because though we walked and walked and walked, the white wall remained just ahead.
When we finally managed to catch up with it, it was disappointing. It really was just a white wall. It was a memorial to women in the military, but there were no fountains or anything…just a white wall and locked gates.
“Look,” said Angie softly.
I turned around. Right behind us was a white temple, lit golden in the night.
“What’s that?” I asked, confused.
“That’s the Lincoln Memorial,” said Angie.
I tried to wrap my head around this information. We’d been walking away from the Lincoln Memorial for what felt like a lifetime and a half, and yet here it was, looking so close.
My only conclusion is that if you construct something huge out of white marble, and light it brilliantly in the night, it will seriously screw up people’s depth perception.
We trudged back to the metro. The up escalator was running, but the down one was still. I began to descend it like a staircase, before I noticed that the entrance at the bottom was gated off.
We went to the elevator. Pushed buttons.
Angie pulled out her phone.
Thankfully she had an external battery pack. We sat on a statue and waited for her phone to charge. Weary to the core, we had no interest in taking one more step.
Now, we decided, would be a great time to figure out how to use Uber.
It really was quite fairly simple. We could’t remember Matt’s address, so we just typed in the Metro station that’s basically in his back yard. And pretty soon we were in a warm car, zooming home, while “Silent Night” played softly on the radio.
That was our Christmas in the city. The next day we did more sight seeing, since things were open again, and then Angie left.
I should note that until I get another computer cord, I can’t promise a blog post every other day. The last two posts were partially written when the cord met its demise, but this post was 100% done on my phone and it’s been brutal. The wordpress app gets really glitchy when things get this long.
Here is a parting shot, of me at the Cathedral, taken by Angie.