Here's, then, post 1: Ship Parade!
Every December, Argosy Cruise Lines holds a Christmas Ship Festival. The Argosy Christmas Ship sails to 45 different spots around Seattle, where choirs sing 20 minute performances that the cruise line plays on loudspeaker to the communities. People in the area gather on the shore, around bonfires or in other small groups, to watch and listen. You can buy tickets to be on the Christmas Ship, have dinner and celebrate. The proceeds go to The Seattle Times Fund for the Needy. People who own ships are also invited to sign up, decorate their ships, and follow along with the Agrosy to create a parade of festively decorated vessels.
Even though I know I've only lived in Seattle for two Decembers, it still surprised me that there was such a delightful holiday event so close to my house that I had never heard of. It's right up my alley too! Looking at lights, watching boats, walkable distance, holiday music, bonfires, hot chocolate... perfect. Luckily this year I had a group of new friends who were going and invited me along on Christmas Eve Eve.
Gasworks Park was full of revelers, from families to groups of friends. A huge bonfire blazed on the brick lookout area, and people tucked in by that or up the hill or down at water's edge on the pathway. Lake Union was filled with so many boats I don't know how they weren't running into each other. The parade was mostly at a celebratory standstill there, but the line extended out into the ship canal towards the Sound and into the bay leading to Lake Washington. There were tiny stand up paddle boats to small sailboats to huge yachts, all completely decked out Christmas Vacation style. The lights of the Seattle skyline glowed across the water. It made an already beautiful view even more cheery and festive.
At the very end, the choir on the Christmas ship did their performance, and it was incredibly lovely. Is there anything more simply moving than an excellent a cappella choir singing a familiar classic in haunting, stirring clarity? It may be me getting older, or more sensitive, but the right song and the right arrangement seems to strike at the very heart of my emotional core anymore - be it a choir, a marching band, a TV theme song... like Christmas, I think the magic is half nostalgia and half dream.