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Seattle and the glow and squint test of Christmas

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Seattle in December, yes, really, days of sparkle and shine

“Enjoy the weather; perfect for vampires,” a local friend says to me.”You’ll have to come back in the summer, when the weather’s beautiful.”

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View from the Ninth Floor of Seattle Four Seasons

I agree with her that I may just have to return in the summer. But truthfully, I’m just fine with the weather. After all, it is December, aka, Christmas time in Seattle. What the heck did I expect?

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Besides I like the way cities with all their lights always glow as if it’s Christmas even when it is not. And since it now really is the holiday season, a December visit to Seattle is all the better. If you ask me cities are where it’s at during Christmas.

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Upon being greeted at Four Seasons Seattle by the above tree, and the cozy lobby with a fireplace, this year December’s magic starts sooner rather than later. This tree definitely passes the squint test.

What is the squint test of Christmas? And does Seattle pass?

Do you know about the squint test of Christmas? It’s used by elves throughout the world for hanging Christmas lights. You step about 10 – 15 feet away from the Christmas tree after the lights have been put up and squint. By doing this, any gaping and unsightly holes that may need another light or two or three are revealed. The goal is not perfection – unevenness is expected and for all but the most OCD troubled minds, desirable. It’s just that no one wants an absence of light where there should be some.

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Frosty and glowing fog burning off Puget Sound as seen from my hotel room

In Myrtle Beach where I currently live, it isn’t unheard of for Christmas day to dawn clear and bright and for the temperature to rise above 70 degrees. I’m not complaining (at least I don’t think I am,) but to me, such weather just doesn’t feel like Christmas.

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Red noses!

Despite meteorological conditions some things about the holidays seem to be the same whether you are in San Diego or Seattle, or on the east or west coast. No matter where you are December, the onset of the holiday season most definitely brings its own verve, pulse, and decibel.

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But bikes hanging from a chain link fence and the steel drum version of White Christmas playing in the background at Pike Place Market seem uniquely Seattle.

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Pike Place Nuts

As I wander and then pause to look at a vendor’s offerings, an overhead space heater warms me from the top of my head down.  I fumble for Chapstick buried deep in my pocket, liking its smooth feel and the reassurance that it is there.

Pre-school children with rosy cheeks, clutching candy canes in their mittened hands walk by. Smells of roasting nuts and baking gingerbread cookies weave together and remind me of something I can’t put my finger on. All of these things speak unmistakably of the approach of Christmas.

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 A romantic French creperie, tucked in a corner of the market and illuminated with Christmas lights and trimmed with the lively and surprising banter of police officers and construction workers there for a midday meal of crepes is something new.

When he sees me puzzling over the menu, the guy behind the counter at Crepe de France suggests a sugar crepe with raspberry jam. “Just right for a snack,” he says. I believe him to be a genius.

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The Crepe de France creperie easily passes the glow and squint test.

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Later back at Four Seasons, the bar and restaurant, ART, with its shifting light palette of jewel tones, passes the glow and squint test with flying colors.

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I leave my hotel in the wee hours of Saturday morning. It is quiet and beautiful, if less festive from my bleary-eyed, squinting if you will, perspective, without the previous night’s hustle of Christmas parties and guests waltzing in and out of revolving doors.

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 But I find it to be more startlingly aglow. Reverent, almost, as if waiting.

*All photos by Margo Millure ©

*Author received complimentary and discounted travel for this stay. Opinions always her own.

Experiencing the Viennese Christmas Markets

Merry Christmas from the land of sunshine, beaches and sundresses


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About the author

Margo Millure lives in Richmond, Virginia. She is a portrait photographer, writer and founder of Travel Belles. Learn more about her at

18 thoughts on “Seattle and the glow and squint test of Christmas”

  1. Margo, this is just beautiful. Truly. You sent a shiver of Christmas excitement right through me 🙂 I love proper winter weather in December, the cold, frosty mornings, the children bundled up in scarves and mittens and the cozy glow of Christmas lights. Sounds like Seattle is a city I’ll have to visit!

  2. I’m having the exact opposite where nothing feels like Christmas to me—of course, that could be because I’ve been living in a sundress on a ship for four months and everywhere we’ve visited has been tropical. I’m actually looking forward to getting back to the sub-freezing temps day after tomorrow, at the very least so I can get a little bit of much-needed holiday cheer.

  3. Your pictures make my hometown look so beautiful! I’m glad you loved Seattle as much as I do. Too bad you didn’t get any snow though – that is a real Pacific Northwest treat 🙂

  4. Thanks, Jenna! I forgot that Seattle was your hometown. The day I flew in there had been snow on the night before in the mountains -very pretty!

  5. I am a US expat living in Buenos Aires, my second Christmas in the southern hemisphere. I am drooling over your super Christmasy photos. I miss it so much! Seattle looks wonderful for Christmas.

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