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Seasonal scenes, from far left: the picturesque ice rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden; Baltimore’s cheerful, over-the-top Miracle on 34th Street light display; and the annual “Season’s Greenings” exhibition at the U.S. Botanic Garden, featuring trains and historic displays.

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Celebrating The season Is there a time of year more bound in traditions than the holiday season? Probably not, and that’s fine with us. There are certain things during these festive weeks that Must Be Done, from light displays to shopping and trips to the ice rink and zoo. But even if your agenda is rapidly filling up, perhaps you can still pluck a new holiday favorite from this list.

— Amy Joyce

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t wouldn’t be Christmas at our house without stockings filled with goodies from the quirky little Washington institution, Rodman’s. For several decades, part of my holiday ritual has been a solo expedition to the no-frills Washington location: I fill my basket with chocolate confections and marzipan fruits from Switzerland, Belgium and Latvia; pick out some French milled soaps; search out my family’s favorite German gingerbread cookies and maybe throw in a Hungarian salami to stick at the bottom of a stocking. This little pharmacy turned international food market, which dates to 1955, always has some new tasty surprises. Rodman’s, 5100 Wisconsin Ave. NW. rodmans.com. Additional locations in Silver Spring and Kensington.

U.S. BOTANIC GARDEN

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he “Season’s Greenings” exhibilighthouses to national parks, make tion at the U.S. Botanic Garden is annual visits fresh and interesting. Plus, my favorite holiday tradition in there’s nothing like wandering into the Washington, and not just because it’s muggy orchid hothouse on a cold Deopen on Christmas Day. The model cember afternoon. trains chugging around the room reUnited States Botanic Garden, 100 mind me of going to see similar displays Maryland Ave. SW. usbg.gov. with my family when I was young, and Open daily through Jan. 2. Free. www.ebook3000.com the rotating themes, from Maryland — Fritz Hahn

few years ago, I was singing Christmas carols in a senior center and I flubbed the words to “Silent Night.” “Sorry,” I whispered to the woman next to me. “I’m Jewish.” “Me too,” she whispered back. Since I came out of the closet as a carol-loving Jew, I’ve found that I’m in good company. Perhaps we are just a musical people, or maybe it’s something deeper: After all, some of the best Christmas songs were written at the turn of the century by Jewish Tin Pan Alley songwriters, recent immigrants with Eastern European folk tunes echoing in their ears. It’s probably not a coincidence that the opening bars of Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” sound a lot like the Israeli national anthem, “Hatikvah,” not to mention the Yiddish songs my greatgrandparents used to sing. Whatever the reason, I find myself oddly compelled, every December, to gather my friends, pass out Santa hats and march around my neighborhood demanding figgy pudding. If you see us, CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

. FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2016

— Becky Krystal

around the holidays. The scene can’t be beat: I feel like we’re in a Norman Rockwell painting, and we always bump into someone we know. All skill levels are welcome at the rink. It’s easy to hold onto the wall for support, but confidence grows with each lap. Of course as soon as little toes and fingers get cold, we hit the Pavilion Café for hot chocolate and watch all the skaters twirl, fall, trip and laugh. Skating at the National Gallery reminds me of how lucky we are to live in this city. Also, you can’t beat that Zamboni. If only little boys’ dreams of driving it themselves could come true . . . Ice rink at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, Seventh Street and Constitution Ave. NW. nga.gov. Open through March 12; closed Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. $7.50-$8.50; $3 skate rental.

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y sons and I love to go ice skating at the National Gallery of Art’s Sculpture Garden

— Jura Koncius

— Maura Judkis

y husband and I have a longstanding annual ZooLights date, typically paired with dinner somewhere in Cleveland Park. Yes, the light displays at this National Zoo tradition are often the same year to year, but we enjoy revisiting them anyway. Despite the hordes of children, an evening spent under the glow of LED animals is romantic, especially when you have to cuddle for warmth on a frigid December evening. There’s also something that feels vaguely rebellious about roaming the zoo at night. And since it’s free, the price can’t be beat. National Zoo, 3001 Connecticut Ave. NW. nationalzoo.si.edu. 5 to 9 p.m., closed Christmas Eve and Day. Free.

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THE WASHINGTON POST

don’t believe a house can ever have too many Christmas decorations. I never get sick of Christmas music. And the weeks between Thanksgiving and Dec. 25 never feel like enough time to make all the cookies I want. Call me a Christmas maximalist. So when I married into a family from Baltimore, my husband knew the one place that would delight a holiday-pajama-wearing, kitschy-decoration-loving holiday glutton like me: Baltimore’s Miracle on 34th Street, a street in the Hampden neighborhood that takes holiday lights as seriously as Clark Griswold does. Traffic around West 34th Street snarls as everyone comes in to gaze at the over-the-top, coordinated light displays, many of which have a Baltimore theme: Christmas Natty Boh or crabs, or light-up pink flamingos, a reference to native son John Waters. Some people get creative, constructing Christmas trees out of hubcaps or filling their lawns with inflatable Santas and snowmen — and shrugging off what I’m sure are costly electricity bills. Grab a mug of hot chocolate and stroll down the block for the most concentrated dose of holiday cheer around. Miracle on 34th Street, 720 West 34th St., Baltimore. christmasstreet.com. Lights are on 5:15 to 11 p.m. nightly through Dec. 31. Free.

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The washington post december 23 2016  
The washington post december 23 2016  
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