Christmas Trees of DC

Washington DC is beautiful during the winter. There are wonderful decorations, diverse celebrations, and snow covered marble everywhere you look. New York can get dreary in the winter with grey snow and too many tourists but DC gains a magical quality.

Here is my celebration of our nation’s capitol with my favorite holiday trees of the city.

My favorite DC Christmas Tree is the Norway Friendship Tree

My favorite DC Christmas Tree is the Norway Friendship Tree.
A gigantic Tree is given to the United States every year from our northern pals in Norway as a thank you for our help in WWII and after. The tree comes decked out in Norwegian and American flags and is set up in Union Station.

The Norway Christmas Tree came complete this year with The Scream ornaments

The Norway Christmas Tree came complete this year with The Scream ornaments

Next up is the classic Capitol Christmas Tree.
Also known as The People’s Tree, it is decorated with handmade ornaments from the residents of a particular state. Mostly children take part in creating the 5,000 individual ornaments which adorn the tree but here and there you can see the touches of local artists and adults. In these pictures you can see the purple and pink ribbons covered with loved one’s names.

The National and State Christmas trees are celebrated with the National Christmas Tree Lighting.
I arrived a day too early but just in time to be blocked by the event set-up from enjoying the trees.  Each tree is uniquely decorated with  state specific ornaments. This year, the New York tree was decorated with our state bird, the Eastern Bluebird. I got to hear the bands preparing for the Tree Lighting Concert but was confused when they started up with Crazy Train – Ozzy wasn’t invited!

Obligatory photo of The White House. These kids were part of a school group admiring the president’s decorations from afar.

Kids gawking at the White House Christmas decorations

Kids gawking at the White House.

And finally, not a Christmas Tree but a very pretty and very old one that I’m going to call the Love Tree.

I love this tree. Right outside the Capitol Building

I love this tree. Right outside the Capitol Building.

It was one of those occasions when juvenile graffiti comes off as romantic.  And the thick trunk covered in carvings of infatuation and forever commitments was in various stages of healing.  I’m sure most of these relationships did not last as long as their public declarations did.  But maybe there’s still a couple out there who hacked their initials into the tree decades ago.

I dubbed it the Love Tree

I dubbed it the Love Tree.

Thus ends this short collection of Washington DC Christmas (and not too Christmas) Trees.  If you ever get a chance go and visit the capital when they’re calling for snow.

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When The World Turns Upside Down…

Everyone experiences life changing heartbreaks, disappointments, and tragedy.  We lose a loved one or have our own futures snatched from us.  Our lives are turned upside down.

But people are resilient.  Out of the Holocaust came newly forged families.  Countries rebuild following civil wars, genocides, and natural disasters.  The past tragedies become our new normal.  We live and adapt.  There is substantial research on grief and our ability to move on.

So what if our lives were literally turned upside down? In 1950, Ivo Kohler and Theodor Erismann documented their experiments in human perception at the university of Innsbruck, Austria.  Kohler wore a unique pair of glasses that used mirrors to make the world appear upside down.  At first he had difficulty with everything from pouring tea to grabbing a pen.  Up was down and down was up.  He found it very difficult to function.

However as time went on Kohler adapted.  At first it took work and practice.  He had to get out of bed and try really hard just to complete everyday tasks that had been second nature before.  It was frustrating.  But every day became a little easier. Every day had a new accomplishment.  And after two weeks his life was normal again.

When we face personal tragedy it feels as though our world is turned upside down.  We lose our ability to function.  Daily activities become a struggle and we just want to give up.  But research and personal experience has shown me that people are resilient.  The kids and adults I have worked with in shelters and respite centers evidence the fact that terrible things happen that completely change every aspect of our lives.  But everyone can regain control of their life.

Two weeks – and the world will start to turn right side up.

Kohler, I. (1964). The Formation and Transformation of the Perceptual World. New York: International Universities Press.
Gregory, R. L. (1998). “Eye and Brain.” The Psychology of Seeing fifth edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 138 -190.
Stratton, G. M. (1897). “Vision without inversion of the retinal image.” Psychological Review. (4) 341, 360-463.

 

Quote

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Nelson Mandela
– Long Walk to Freedom (1995)

“For Love Comes More Naturally…

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Sweet Kisses

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Kisses

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