I'm taking a temporary break (just for a few days) from my Holiday Giving Guide. There are so many things about to start happening in DC, I'm already starting to feel distracted by all the pending festivities. I didn't even get past Thanksgiving, yet I was at Target debating what holiday wrapping paper to buy.
When did Thanksgiving become a road bump on the way to Christmas?!?!?!
Anyway, let's talk about festivities. Recently I was at the Smithsonian Zoo and was reminded the zoo does ZooLights. Like the Zoo itself, Zoolights are free. The zoo gets turned into a winter wonderland of lights. (Thanks to several sponsors, ahem Pepco ;)
I think the zoo is a perfect date place and ironically family place. Normally those two genres don't go hand and hand. The zoo is just a fun, interactive walk. It is a really budget, friendly way to get to know someone. Even if you are not sure what your common interests are - who doesn't love pandas, sea lions, and elephants? Quite frankly, if someone is hating on life at the zoo, you might want to reconsider that love interest/friendship.
Unlike going to a museum, the zoo isn't as intimidating. I remember once going to the Portrait museum with someone who was absolutely inspired. I, on the other hand, was daydreaming about what we would eat for lunch when we departed the museum. It was obvious the playing field was not leveled. Now if we had gone to the zoo, I could have rattled off factoids about animals, which I learned via Disney cartoons growing up.
In the same vein that I like the zoo as much as I like Disney cartoons, children thrive at the zoo. I once had the great pleasure of being a tour guide to my best friend's four year old for the weekend. After taking her on an Amazing Race like adventure of DC (in an attempt to exhaust her into sleeping through the night) we ended up at the zoo. I hoped she would want to see something exciting like the petting zoo.
Instead she insisted on spending time pressed up against the window housing the komodo dragons. She once saw a National Geographic special on komodo dragons. (I have no idea why at four she was watching National Geographic specials. Let's just say I'm not giving up Gossip Girl time to learn about the dietary needs of reptiles) Anyway, there was no convincing her other animals might be more entertaining. It was about as thrilling as being at the Portrait museum for me. The dragon was so still for so long I made a valiant effort to convince her it was stuffed so we could leave.
Despite my little friend's love of just the komodo dragon, I know other children are more generous with their attention to the wildlife. Clutching stuffed toys celebrating their groupie like following of the pandas, I hear cries of excitement in identifying animals or literally screams of terror when they realize its time to go home.
So now that we established that the zoo is a great place for a first date or to take a small platoon of children, when should you go? Go Nov 23-25, 30, Dec 1-2, 7-9, 14-23, 26-30, or Jan 1. You not only get to see the animals but you also get to see the Zoolights.
Let's be honest, the Zoolights are just lights. There is nothing really flashy. It just makes the zoo feel like a winter wonderland. I went a few years ago. You get hot cocoa or cider. You walk around and talk about your favorite animals. It isn't a complex night or even that exciting. It can be romantic. It can also be good wholesome fun for the whole family. They have a choo- choo train and they have a carousal.
Sometimes less is more, especially during Christmas. It isn't about fancy toys, expensive gadgets, or finding the perfect wrapping paper. It is about spending time with the people you are lucky to have in your life. So maybe it is just lights and a simple walk, but doesn't that sound pretty perfect? ;)
I'm sure you are booked on the Christmas party circuit. However, if you have a night off, I'll see you at Zoolights.