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Christmas in Chicago

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent


It’s really December! There is no time to waste! Right now it’s time to head down to the Museum of Science and Industry for the annual Christmas Around the World.  We’ll be there on Sunday, December 2nd, can you make it? It’s always amazing, looking at the different ways cultures around the world bring their local flair to the Christmas celebration. Hundreds of different trees and decorations are on display, and it’s all quite breath-taking. https://www.msichicago.org/explore/whats-here/exhibits/christmas-around-the-world/

Friday, December 7th, meet us right after work, at the Cloud Gate in Millennium Park, Michigan Ave., between Madison and Washington, for Caroling at Cloud Gate.  We’ll meet around 5:30pm, and gather where we can listen to, and even join in, the profoundly moving Christmas hymns and carols presented on this day by the Chicago Chamber Choir from 6pm until 7pm. They are uplifting singers who have been thrilling audiences in and around Chicago for over 30 years. You can hear them here: http://www.chicagochamberchoir.org/listen

Afterward, let’s quickly walk over to the Chriskindlmarket, at Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington, where we can stroll past the many shops and counters, have some hot chocolate, or apple cider, and German sausages, sauerkraut, and other goodies, before we go into the Christmas ornament shops and pick out this year’s addition to our trees. It’s always cheerful fun and we’ll enjoy your company, so please join us.  The Market closes at 9pm on Fridays, just enough time. http://www.christkindlmarket.com/chicago/

It’s still early, so how about a quick stroll to Cardozo’s Pub? It’s right down the street, at 170 W. Washington, and a wonderful “hidden gem” of a place where the food is good, the drinks even better, and the atmosphere is warm and friendly. We’ll grab a table, chat about the holidays, our families and the usual news before leaving to catch an “L” train home.

Saturday, December 8th, let’s grab the kids and the grand-folk, and head for Filament Theatre, 4041N. Milwaukee Ave., to take in the 2:30 show of the grand fairy tale, by Hans Christian Anderson, The Snow Queen. This is a full family adventure, friends, at my favorite kid-friendly neighborhood theater, and we will all love it.  From their website: “When her best friend Kai is lured to the wicked Snow Queen’s palace, Gerda embarks on an unexpected quest to the ends of the world to save him. This epic story of courage and friendship across the wintry wonders of the North Pole and beyond will warm your heart with music, puppetry, and lots of theatrical magic.”  Get your tickets early and join us, because this is a great holiday view for all ages.  http://www.filamenttheatre.org/snowqueen/

On the way there, let’s get some lunch. Our bunch will have 5 or 6 people, I’m sure yours will too, so let’s go casual at a place that can accomodate a big, noisy group with kids and teenagers.  I’m thinking of Legno Chicago, 4250 N. Central Ave., because we can book tables for our crew in advance. Tthe place has been a staple of the Portage Park neighborhood for about 40 years, the new look is warm, and the food is always wonderful.  Let’s reserve for 12:30pm, plenty of time to eat, catch up a bit, laugh with the kids, and still make the show, since Filament is only about 10 minutes away. http://www.legnochicago.com/ (773)736.2854

The very next day, Sunday, December 9th, let’s go ice skating.  It’s free at Maggie Daley Park, where we can skate the ribbon, a long figure 8, that lets novice skaters like me (you, too?) get things going without sharp turns to negotiate while still getting re-acquainted with these skates.  Let’s bring the kids, they will undoubtedly have lots of fun and remind us of life’s simple joys.

Let’s shake off the winter blues, attack work frustrations, and channel our inner axe-wielding warrior at Bad Axe Throwing.  Yes, we will learn to throw AXES at targets and hit the bullseyes. Isn’t that wild?  They have two Chicago locations, and welcome foks who just walk in, so this will be outrageously fun, and think of the story it will make with our friends who can’t join us.  The spot at 2828 N. Clark St., Atrium level, I’m told, is a lot bigger, and farther away from the hustle of their West Loop location, so let’s try that, shall we?  There are dedicated coaches to show us the ropes, axes are included in the price, (it’s only $20.00 per hour for walk-ins!) After work?  Tuesday, or Wednesday, December 11th or 12th? Let’s call ahead, just to be sure: (888) 435-0001, and you can check out some cool videos at https://badaxethrowing.com.  I’m excited already!

Saturday, December 15th, we’re headed west, to the Chriskindlmarket in Naperville, Illinois.  Very similar to the one downtown, but with a different variety of vendors and displays, and a bit less hectic than Daley Plaza on a Friday evening.  The original Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany, began in 1545, and is still operating to this day. Having this warm-hearted, friendly European tradition here in Chicago is a wonderful experience and we can’t get enough.  Not only will I get in some last minute shopping for my mom (who is 93 years old, do you believe it?), she loves glass ornaments and music boxes, so can you help me pick out a special something, please? http://www.christkindlmarket.com/naperville/

Afterward, we’ll head just a few miles away to the Morton Arboretum, 4100 Illinois Route 53, Lisle, Illinois, for Illumination, a wonderful walk through the forests and fields, specially lit with holiday displays that are whimsical, enchanting, and just plain fun.  Bring the cameras and the family (or your significant other; gentlemen, this is a wonderfully romantic date!) There are stops for hot chocolate, and at the center you can discover the work the Arboretum does in forestry and horticulture on this many-hundreds-of-acres nature sanctuary. https://www.mortonarb.org/events/illumination

Chef Paul’s Bavarian Lodge, 1800 Ogden Ave., Lisle, seems the appropriate spot for dinner, doesn’t it? After the Chriskindlmarket and the Illumination walk through snow-covered forests, some great German food and beer is just what we need, yes? Let’s start with the Tiroler Schnitzel Bites, as an appetizer, and I will order the Jager Huhnerschnitzel (chicken breast), just because I’ve never tasted it before and it sounds delicious. Let me suggest the Sauerbraten (marinated beef) or the Kassler Rippchen (smoked pork chops) if you are having trouble deciding.  http://bavarian-lodge.com/

Christmas is almost upon us, my friends, so we’ll be spending more time with our families, some are even travelling away.  If that’s you, please accept all of our best wishes for safe travels and joyous holidays, where ever you go.  If that’s not you, please join us on Saturday, December 22nd, at the world famous Lincoln Park Conservatory, 2391 Stockton Dr., Chicago (just south of Fullerton Ave., just east of Lake Shore Drive), where we will find that the Show House has been turned “into a Winter Wonderland filled with poinsettias, trees, sparkling lights, and a model trains that traverse through the plantings. This year will feature photos from 1940s through 1960s, celebrating memories of holidays past.”  We’ll not neglect the other houses, exhibiting climates and plant life from around the world, but it’s the Wonderland that will capture our attention.  Meet us there about noon, and we’ll walk through it all, reading about the displays and badgering the volunteers with nearly endless questions about every detail.  Won’t that be fun? https://www.chicagoparkdistrict.com/parks-facilities/lincoln-park-conservatory

This year we have the longest Christmas break I can remember; with Christmas, December 25th, on a Tuesday it will be a great, long weekend to celebrate this joyous time. Enjoy it with your family and closest friends.  Cherish the passing year, the new friends you’ve made, the good times with old ones, be uplifted by the holiday celebrations.  Attend the church of your choice, where the Christmas music and singing and special celebrations will enlighten the world, and, with continued effort on our part, help to  create “Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards Men.”

Wait a minute!  December isn’t over yet!  OMG, it’s New Year’s weekend, with New Year’s Eve on Monday, New Year’s Day on Tuesday, and look at that, most of us are off both days! Did you plan for this?  We did, and we won’t be here.  We are going north to Minocqua, Wisconsin, where we will be cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in a number of wonderful ski areas, including Winter Park, http://minocquawinterpark.org/ with it’s 6,500 acres of protected forest, lined with over 80 kilometers of expertly groomed cross-country and snowshoe trails.  There are also 200 meter snow tubing runs, an ice skating pond, and, of course, a heated chalet.  The area also boasts many more miles of trails in the nearby National Forests, and we’ll spend one day at Indianhead Mountain Resort, Wakefield, Michigan, http://www.bigsnow.com/ with it’s extensive downhill ski facilities, fast and clean slopes, excellent staff and instructors, and well marked runs, ranging from very easy to extremely difficult. I can’t wait!

Well, we’ll be celebrating New Year’s Eve in our comfy little cabin in the woods, before the fire, snuggled together and toasting the years, both past and ahead.  If you’re still in the beautiful city of Chicago for the occasion, you might stick close to home, find your favorite local bar, toast a sip or two of champagne with your loved one, and find that you are both at peace with your selves and the world.  I truly hope so.  Until the new year, then, friends, enjoy the adventures of your life.

December 2018