I realize, though, that someday I may be spending Christmas in Chicago (or traveling to/from one location to another), so Jesus and I have started a few traditions here to help with that transition:
- Decorating: Even if I'm not physically in my apartment on Christmas, decorating helps to get me in the spirit. Plus, when it gets dark at 4:30 a few twinkling lights help the mood. Since this is our first Christmas in a shared apartment, it's a little early to call our paper snowflakes, green and red lights, and pine scented candles "tradition," but I think we can call it one in the making
- Christkindlmarket: I sometimes wish I was a better German-American so I could tell you how much I love the pretzels, potato pancakes, streudel, and beer at Christkindl Market. I'm not, though, so all I can say is I love watching the crowds, smelling the food, window shopping the different craft stalls, and saying to myself, "Someday I'll spend more than 15 minutes here." It's a weird tradition, but the act of seeing and walking through this pop-up market is enough to make me joyous.
- Macy's/State Street: I don't ride the train downtown just to watch people line up in a beer tent and weave their way through aisles of glass ornaments; State Street shopping and Macy's especially are just down the block and they're the meat of my trips to the Loop in December. In one committed afternoon, Jesus and I can cross of most of our Christmas list, see the Macy's windows (planets and Peanuts this year), check out the Walnut Room tree, share some popcorn, pretend we have thousands of dollars to spend on sectional furniture, fantasy redecorate our room, walk through the Hall of Trees, discuss home improvement projects for next year, and play Theater of Life while getting two more stamps on our food court punch card. Thanks, Capitalism!
- ZooLights: This holiday season will mark either the third or fourth year Jesus and I bundle up and walk around Lincoln Park Zoo in awe of all the lights (and the sleeping gorillas!). It's probably our favorite Christmas in Chicago tradition, and just a favorite date night overall. Last year we went on New Year's Day and it felt like the perfect way to start 2015.
- Watching (or listening to music from) The Nutcracker: Usually how we end our ZooLights nights, finding a performance of The Nutcracker online or YouTube-ing our favorite songs individually turns Jesus and I into little kids for a few hours. There's something about the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy that turns a regular evening into something special.
We can already check #s 1-3 off this list for 2015, and 4 & 5 are being planned out. Traditions, consider yourselves made.