The anticipation of Christmas is intoxicating. I get so excited with the "to do" list of planning-shopping-wrapping-cooking, giving-decorating-baking, that the day after Christmas is just exhausting.
So each year, from December 1-26, exhilaration to near meltdown I go--but it is so worth it.
I experienced Christmas in Chicago twice this month, and both with overnights at the Palmer House Hilton. The first time was with my husband for our 23rd anniversary. The second time our 3 boys, my cousin and my mother-in-law joined us. We explored the Museum of Science and Industry, Christkindlmarket, State Street, Millenium Park, and the Palmer House Empire Room. We had so much fun that I am sure my sons will take their wives and children downtown someday and maybe their girlfriends next year.
My parents took me many times by train to the Loop when I was a child. I especially loved shopping at Marshall Field's and loved carrying home a big dark green bag and signature gold lettering with something wonderful inside. We visited the Walnut Room to see the Great Tree and peeked into the animated windows. I heard many stories about my mother working at Field's in her 20s. My mother even modeled wedding fashions for a time.
Our family continued these State Street traditions. My boys enjoyed the freedom to walk from Union Station to the Loop and from the Palmer House to the Lincoln Park Zoo on their own. This took some letting go and caused more than a few anxious thoughts. When all 7 of us met outside The Berghoff at 5:30 I thought my heart would burst. We had to wait for an hour and a half for dinner, though, but had lots of time to share our stories. The best one was Chris taking a dip in Lake Michigan on North Avenue Beach. I would never have believed it if not for the video and photo passed around in The Berghoff basement. "Give the boys an inch and they take a mile"--does that apply?
So here they are. My reflections of Doing The Senior Shuffle through the most beautiful time of year.
10 Best Reflections of Christmas 2012
- Best Christmas Eve moment: Willow Creek Community Church hip-hop and videos of a modern-day Mary and Joseph.
- Best place to be on Christmas morning: home. We tried a Caribbean cruise one year and it wasn't better.
- Best Christmas Day moments: My parents at our table for 12:00 dinner enjoying ham and sweet potato casserole. My mom saying that my home, centerpiece and Christmas decorations were beautiful. My dad watching football with my sons.
- Best place to have an early morning Starbucks coffee: on a draped cocktail table inside the Palmer House Empire Room.
- Best place to look up in the Loop: The Palmer House lobby ceiling painted by a French artist for Potter Palmer's wife.
- Best place to see Christmas trees: The Museum of Science and Industry.
- Best place to eat German food in Chicago: The Berghoff.
- Best place to teach teen boys responsibility: Chicago--letting go, so they can find their way around by themselves.
- Best gift under the tree: colorful, fuzzy mukluks from all 3 sons.
- Best gift of all time: Baby Jesus wrapped in a cloth, who grew up to be my Savior.