Embassy photos: Tony Powell
Ok guys, lets face it, there IS such a thing as too much merriment. If your life resembles ours at least a little bit, then you’ve been stretched thin between office holiday parties, office holiday parties of the people you are dating, holiday parties you are throwing, holiday parties your friends are throwing, holiday parties random strangers in your building are throwing, holiday parties your enemies are throwing (after all, you wouldn’t want to give them the satisfaction of not showing up)… and we are still a full week away from ACTUAL Christmas and the holiday family overload. What is supposed to be a joyous month becomes the party season equivalent of Chinese water torture-they keep coming at you, relentlessly and mercilessly, and there is JUST NOWHERE TO RUN.
WE FEEL YOU.
This is it! The holiday party we’ve been waiting for!
The holiday party we’ve been paying dues at all the other holiday parties for.
Now, in the days leading up to it, here is a fun fact we learned/confirmed about Downton Abbey and the effect it has on people:
- the popularity of the show TRANSCENDS age, gender, social standing, education levels, sexual orientation and/or any other thing that is usually used to predict pop culture appeal. EVERYONE LOVES IT. EVERYONE. My Mother was jealous I was invited, my gay best friend screamed SHUT UP! when informed what was happening, the rest of the office was jealous, random people I met at random holiday parties were jealous, pretty sure the google mail admin who was subjected to my incessant emails to my friends about it became jealous at some point…. the #DowntonEffect was undeniable.
- see also: ONE CANNOT STOP TALKING ABOUT DOWNTON ABBEY ONCE ONE STARTS TALKING ABOUT IT.
And then, the day of the event came. You sort of play it cool, but in reality you are GIDDIER than a freshman being asked to a prom by the hottest senior (EVER). There is dress steaming to be done, manicures to be squeezed in, plucking, moisturizing, teasing of hair and a ton of other things in between.
The best part is: no one thinks you are crazy to act this way/everyone understands (see above re: #DowntonEffect). Your parents send you a text message wishing you good luck (it should be noted, we do go to a fair amount of VERY FANCY events and VERY IMPORTANT events as well, and this is the only time they felt the need to say that, like: “Make sure those people know you were raised well”). Your friends send notes involving “side-saddle weddings” and worse. And then, you arrive:
(This is obviously not what the Embassy looks like, but -IN YOUR MIND’S HEART THAT NIGHT-it does)
Now, I know you all want to know: WAS MAGGIE SMITH THERE? Sadly, no. But that didn’t taint the evening, in the slightest. I promise.
You had 2 hours to be there (6:30pm-8:30), the only alcohols on offer seemed to be champagne and a fine selection of scotches and while part of my big fear was that they would have the cast sequestered somewhere and then just trot them out on stage for a Q&A (alongside ambassador Sir Peter Westmacott and formidable executive producer Rebecca Eaton who is also responsible for BBC’s Sherlock, Upstairs Downstairs and more, and is basically a TV God in our book), but instead they were milling about, as friendly and sweet as you hope they would be. And while it is very disconcerting to be ordering a glass of George Dickel only to realize you are standing next to Thomas the Evil Butler (sorry Rob James Collier, we are sure you are a very sweet man in person) or realize that those eyebrows 2 feet away from you belong to Mr. Carson, it definitely added to the overall enchantment of the evening.
And it was good to see #DOWNTONEFFECT affecting the dignitaries too. Some of the most powerful people in DC were lining up, cell phones in hand, shaking the hand and asking people around them to grab a snap of them and Lord & Lady Grantham. For all we know, their friends may as well have been emailing them about side saddle weddings that morning as well, that’s how fanboyish the room got.
And then, afterwards, when it is all over and you realize there is STILL 3 weeks to go till Season 3 premieres on PBS (JANUARY 6TH!!!!), you go home (or, you know, to yet ANOTHER holiday party), and look at your instagram snaps with Hugh Bonneville (sure the flash blinded him, sure he looked a little scared when you scream-whispered “I’ve loved you since Notting Hill!”, but IT.DOES.NOT.MATTER) and realize that Christmas miracles maybe do happen. And yes Mom, I promise I wasn’t embarrassing (at least not too much).