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'The memories are what it's about' | Families substitute gifts for travel, spend Christmas in the nation’s capital

Families from as far as South Carolina and Germany opted to make memories from travel rather than give gifts.

WASHINGTON — Families large and small spent their Christmas afternoon on the National Mall on what turned out to be a picturesque day in the nation’s capital.

As the sunset behind the National Monument, some families from around the world said they chose to spend their holiday in the District over putting gifts under the tree.

"Well we hadn't seen the capital in real life yet so we figured we come up and check it out," Daniel Madewell said.

The Madewell family opened a few gifts at their hotel room Wednesday morning, but said packing the family up and heading to D.C. was a gift that money couldn’t buy.

“The memories are what it’s about,” Madewell said. “We value the memories more than the presents.”

Credit: WUSA
As the sun began to fade you could see the silhouettes of visitors who make it a tradition to come out on Christmas day, and those who chose traveling over gift giving.

They weren’t the only ones out exploring the monuments and memorials that are available 365 days a year. The Pfeilmeier family is spending their holiday traveling across the northeastern coast.

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They're from Germany, and their son Jan said traveling the world tops any Christmas gift list.

“Probably number one, because it stays forever. Yeah, it's a memory. You don't forget it as easy as, for example a toy or socks,” Jan Pfeilmeier said.

His father, Joreg, said watching his sons absorb the world around them is priceless.

"I think that's the biggest gift you can give them.... to learn to be tolerant, to learn that people are different than the world," Joreg Pfeilmeier said. "That's the most exciting you can give to kids."

Despite families celebrating the holidays in their own way, everyone agreed being with family was the most important thing.

RELATED: Thank DC for your Christmas tree lights – the District made them popular 96 years ago

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