Thursday, December 15, 2011

Washington Social Diary

Registrar General of the DAR Patricia Carpenter with young visitors at the tenth anniversary of the DAR's annual open house.
Jingle All The Way!
by Stephanie Green

For me, the best part of the holidays is seeing the everyday transformed into the magical and the otherworldly.

Around this time every year the empty lot behind my bus stop becomes an enchanted forest of fragrant Christmas trees. The street lamps on Wisconsin Avenue are suddenly red and white-striped candy canes. Even the local drug store seems to shed its dreariness when the bright-colored candy boxes and sweetly packaged holiday cards line the shelves.

Thus, I wasn't at all surprised to see the Four Seasons Hotel in Georgetown, a building I pass by almost every day, spring to new life as a whimsical toy land on December 11 for the annual "Georgetown Jingle," which attracts thousands of revelers.

The young and the old, the cynical and the bright-eyed converged on this den of luxury for the sixth straight year to support pediatric cancer charities in the nation's capital.

Since its inception, the "Jingle," as it is charmingly known around town, has raised nearly 2 million for cancer's youngest victims. The Four Season has recruited 100 designers from around the country to turn their already decadent halls into a visual feast.

As this was my first "Jingle," I waded through sniffling children and their harried parents in wonder at the delightful decorations. My first stop was the regal ballroom aglow in pink lights. I was surrounded by the culinary offerings of 50 chefs and representatives from local restaurants like French Bakery Paul. I gasped in merriment at their carbohydrate-loaded ginger bread men.

I resisted temptation and did not partake, but the barbeque from Rockland's was just too much, and I indulged without regret. I then headed toward the center of activity, the children's workshop, where dozens of tots raced around from craft table to craft table before heading over to see Santa Claus, or have their picture taken with a furry friend from The Nutcracker, or make a balloon hat with the help of a staff member dressed as an elf.
Kids and adults work together at craft tables in children's workshop.
A giant elf shows kids how to have fun with balloons.
More fun at the craft table.
Santa was present to take wishes and give hugs.
Ballerinas and the Rat King charmed guests.
Newly minted power couple Pamela Sorensen and Jason Kampf.
Future power couple?
As if on cue, that favorite of Christmas Carols, "My Favorite Things," started dancing through my head. But the Jingle isn't just kids' stuff. I spotted at least two rooms reserved for the Jingle's silent auction items where guests could bid on luxurious items like frosting from Kenneth Jay Lane or a velvety soft fur stole.

Perhaps my favorite Jingle room was the ice lounge, and let me tell you, they don't take the word "ice" lightly. A frigid room with an Antarctic bar doled out sinful treats while a giant penguin ice sculpture kept watch.

Don't worry about the poor bartender. He was dressed for the occasion with so many head to toe layers you'd think he just arrived from Siberia. I made it out of the Four Seasons that night a little chilly, but feeling the warmth of good cheer and giving of the season.
Some of the silent auction items.
The ballroom at the Four Seasons.
Entrance to Ice Lounge. Ice Sculpture in Ice Lounge.
Well insulated bartender at Ice Lounge.
Another building I see all the time is the Daughters of the American Revolution Memorial Continental Hall, as I am an active member of the District of Columbia DAR.

Perhaps not as famous as her sister structure, the DAR Constitution Hall, which hosts a number of high-profile concerts and events throughout the year, the Memorial Continental Hall is not without her charms and special history.
The DAR Open House is now in its 10th year of welcoming guests to the historic Memorial Continental Hall and DAR Library and Museum.
December 7th was the tenth anniversary of the DAR's annual open house where members of the greater community and DAR members from around the country come and explore the Hall's patriotic elegance and meet DAR executives who are proving they do more than host teas and brag about their ancestors.

Leading the charge was DAR President General Merry Ann Thompson Wright who held court in the O'Byrne Gallery where guests, many of them youngsters, were greeted by Santa and served warm cookies and cider.
DAR President General Merry Ann Thompson Wright chats with guests at open house.
DAR Member Martha Hilton and DAR Docent stand in front of the Hall's many portraits of former DAR leaders.
Christmas tree in main hall of Memorial Hall. DAR member Julie Kinzer sits on Santa's lap.
Registar General Patricia Carpenter led groups of children through the Museum Gallery, which features a special exhibition on American folk art.

But perhaps the star attractions in the Hall are the 31 period rooms depicting colonial décor and traditions throughout the states. The New Jersey, Indiana, Alabama, Texas, and New York rooms showed cozy parlors and sitting rooms with holiday flourishes of years past.
DAR Library decorated for holidays.
Several of the Hall's 31 period rooms celebrating early American culture and decor are decorated for the holidays.
Maine Room.
New York Room. Texas Period Room.
New Hampshire Period Room.
When I surveyed the impressive DAR library, one of the largest genealogical resource centers in the world, the bust of Martha Washington, and the various regal portraits of DAR leaders, I was reminded of the special place women have played in the country's history.

In fact, next year I will suggest that Mrs. Claus replace her husband as our open house's guest of honor.

It seems only fitting.
Photographs by Stephanie Green & Katrina Sarlin.