The Icebox

Then he slunk to the icebox. He took the Whos’ feast!
He took the Who-pudding! He took the roast beast!
He cleaned out that icebox as quick as a flash.
Why, that Grinch even took their last can of Who-hash!

From How the Grinch Stole Christmas, by Dr. Seuss

“Look! It’s the Grinch,” I told June as we approached the huge white pavilion at the National Harbor yesterday afternoon. We were headed for the ICE exhibit ( The theme this year was How the Grinch Stole Christmas so a figure of the Grinch hovered over the door. Our timed tickets were for 4:30 and it was a little before four so we had time to explore the heated part of the tent, where people were ice-skating and a group of singers on a bandstand sang “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” with theatrically forced cheer.

The ICE exhibit is a collection of colored ice sculptures crafted by artists from a region of China where there’s a big ice festival every year. The chilled part of the tent where they reside is kept at 9 degrees Fahrenheit. I was a little concerned about this part, about June specifically. She doesn’t always do well in the cold.

We’d just come from Wheeling, where we spent Christmas and where in the five days we were there the temperature never rose out of the twenties. June was game for sledding on Christmas morning (she had a new sled to test out after all) but the second time we went, on a windier day, she gave up after one run down the hill and she and I sat in the backseat of the car and read a book of fairy tales while Noah went up and down the hill on his sled and Beth stood in the snow and watched him. June also bailed on ice-skating, which she’d been anticipating for a long time, while she and Beth and I were in line at the Wheeling Park rink. I’m still not sure if it was because of the cold (she was shivering) or if it was because she’d just seen the chaotic reality of an ice rink with a lot of big people whipping around quite quickly on it. I think she might have imagined herself skating elegantly and alone like the girl in the (hauntingly lovely) Schoolhouse Rock “Figure 8” song she likes (

Anyway, I consulted her teacher Andrea because I know she and her partner and daughters went to ICE last year. Andrea advised wearing boots and hats and assured me that the parkas they issue you do help a lot and she thought June would be fine.

We wound through the line, past an exhibit of art by Dr. Suess and got to the parka-pickup area where we struggled into the big puffy blue parkas. Beth’s and mine went a little past our knees. The kids’ parkas almost brushed their feet. June was briefly upset because she couldn’t get her mittened hands out of the sleeves, but Beth helped her.

Then we were inside. It was 9 degrees, it was crowded and it was noisy, party because of the crowds but mostly because of the fans. We didn’t get too many pictures because we didn’t want to inconvenience other people who were trying to get by and we couldn’t hear each other well enough to consult on what to photograph but you can get a good idea of what it looked like from this photo gallery (

June did great. She did not complain about the cold (or if she did I didn’t hear her) even though she got a rash on one cheek from it that lasted until she went to bed. She was smiling or looking at things intently most of the times I looked down and her. And she even went down the ice slide meant to represent The Grinch and Max’s ride down Mount Crumpet. She and I went down the children’s slide, which was pretty tame, and Noah went down the bigger one. At the very end of the exhibit there was a nativity scene done in clear ice. Beth said she thought it was the prettiest part as the colored ice sometimes looks like plastic.

We exited the exhibit a little after five, stood in line to greet someone in a Grinch costume and then left for the eighteen-story Gaylord National Resort hotel atrium (, where we spotted one or two of the bronze Seuss statues on display, admired the elaborate decorations (including a big Christmas tree made of lights and for some reason suspended high in the air). We got hot chocolate and waited in line under the tree to ride a little train around a track. During the wait, June, who had taken only a twenty-five minute nap that afternoon instead of her usual hour or so, started to lean heavily against me.

We decided to move quickly to our next stop, dinner at Freshii ( As we sat on the barstools and June ate her bowl of noodles, tofu, black beans and edamame and I ate my vegetable-noodle soup, I asked her if she had a good day. “It wasn’t just good,” she said enthusiastically, “It was awesome!”

She’s such a delight. I have to admit I am often wishing she was just a little older, a little more independent, and looking with longing to a time when she’s at school for more than three hours at a time, when she can read to herself or when she’s fully potty-trained and sleeping through the night nearly all the time. This despite the fact that she’s made big strides in the last two areas this fall. As we stand on the brink of a new year when all of those wishes of mine could come true, and at least some surely will, I have to remind myself that sometimes four and three-quarters is a very satisfying age and right now is a very good time. Like the Whos, I have to remember to clasp hands and sing, even when I don’t have exactly what I was expecting.

But the sound wasn’t sad!
Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so!
But it WAS merry! VERY!