Friday, January 08, 2010

Las Vegas and the Holiday Season

Mercifully, the holidays are over. I’m sure that the Bellagio has all their decorations taken down and neatly stored away, giant nutcrackers and all, but at my house the tree is still up. It’s a reminder of just how hectic the holidays were.

Amidst the whirlwind of unexpectedly doubled hours at my part-time job, a trip to the ER with a family member, shopping, decorating, and coping with a terminally ill family pet, I also had some extra writing assignments. One of them was a request to submit a post to National Geographic Traveler’s blog, IntelligentTravel, which had posted a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire about all the holiday aspects of a city. Although I was disappointed that my post wasn’t featured, in hindsight I can certainly understand why. Several of the questions left me scratching my head for good answers. Las Vegas may have made the Travel Channel’s list of “The Most Christmasy Places in America,” but that didn’t make it any easier for me to fit my hometown into any kind of traditional Christmas setting.

The questions severely tested my creative abilities, so much so that I believe I overdid my answers, something like a bad liar who can’t shut up. I won’t torment you with the full versions of my responses, but here are a few of the questions that left me banging my head on my desk:

The best place to grab a cup of cocoa is ______.
I think I may have groaned when I first read that one. The only place I could think of was Starbucks, and I knew that was not the answer they were looking for. I’ve had some seriously alcohol-infused hot apple cider concoctions while out and about, but not any cocoa. The short version of my agonized-over answer: Mt. Charleston.

Strap on your skates at _____ and enjoy the view of _____.
What immediately came to mind was absolutely nothing. I heard Ferris Bueller’s name being called without any answer as I pondered this one. My answer: MonteLago Village.

No holiday meal in my city is complete without ______.
Again, the sounds of silence filled my brain. What on earth do Las Vegans enjoy as a staple after holiday meals? We don’t have any city-wide holiday meal traditions, at least none that I know about, and I was born and raised here. My answer: A stiff after-dinner drink.

Locals know to avoid the throngs _____ and find the real magic ______.
At this point, I was considering that stiff drink before dinner rather than after. We all avoid the throngs on the Strip, but to find real magic… does Lance Burton do a Christmas show? My answer involved avoiding the throngs at the malls, and on the Strip on New Year’s Eve, and finding the real magic at home with family and friends.

And that, I believe, is one of the things that stymied my responses. At my house, the holidays are about family. I’d say most of my friends who are also long-time residents celebrate the holidays in Las Vegas the same way: with family and friends, far from the Strip, with nary a thought about ice skating or places to stop for cocoa. Las Vegas may be one of the world’s most exciting cities, but for her residents, the holidays are pretty tame.
My picture of the Bellagio Conservatory

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