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The Holiday Adventures Are Upon Us

 
December 1, 2019 - December 31, 2019
 
Chicago

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

This Friday, December 6th, meet us after work and we’ll head right over to the Christkindlmarket in

Daley Plaza, to take a stroll through this giant open-air market inspired by the Christkindlesmarkt in Nuremberg, Germany that dates back to the 16th century. Let’s explore the many shops to examine glass ornaments, nutcrackers, cuckoo clocks, scarves and much more. Many of these items are carefully handcrafted, just look at the intricate designs and precise handwork in those cuckoo clocks!

Today, Saturday, December 7th, is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. Today, America remembers the Japanese attack on the Pearl Harbor naval station that brought America immediately into WWII.  It is also a day to honor all 2,403 Americans who died in that attack. Please take a few moments from your daily routine to remember  “a date that shall live in infamy”.

Tonight, please join us at Mercury Theater Chicago, 3745 North Southport Avenue, 773-325-1700, www.mercurytheaterchicago.com, for a “Nat King Cole Christmas”.  As the Mercury tells us, “Acclaimed Chicago actor Evan Tyrone Martin (Jesus Christ Superstar) celebrates Nat King Cole with a festive cocktail of signature songs and yuletide favorites. In a romantic evening of story and song, Martin intimately relates Cole’s journey with velvety vocals and debonair charm. Act quickly, as tickets for all the available shows are already on sale and going fast.

Today, Friday, December 13th, meet us downtown, right after work, in Millennium Park, next to the Cloud Gate, to hear Chicago Children’s Choir caroling. It starts at 6pm, so please don’t be late. These youngsters are so very talented, aren’t they? Psst, there’s a hot chocolate stand behind you, want some?  If we weren’t in the holiday spirit before this, we surely are now!

We’ve been dying to try Rudy’s Bar and Grill that’s close to the park at 69 E Madison St., (312) 332-8111, www.rudysbarandgrillechicago.com, and tonight seems just right for a new dive bar adventure, doesn’t it?  Look at this menu: the Greektown burger, with cucumber, and tzatziki sounds intriguing, as does the Bacon Jalapeno, but I’m thinking it’s the Signature, “from 1967 w/ green peppers, diced onion, garlic and pepper mixed right in”, for me.  Sweet potato fries, yes, I’ll share, especially since you’re having onion rings to share with me.  Look at what our friends are having: broasted chicken, mac & cheese, and who ordered breakfast?

No matter how many times we go, (and I first went here when I was about 10 years old) the “Christmas Around the World and Holidays of Light” displays at the incomparable Museum of Science and Industry never cease to please.  This year it will be today, Saturday, December 14th, when we make our way there to let ourselves be enthralled once again.  The Grand Tree, four full stories high, is “surrounded by a forest of more than 50 trees and displays decorated by volunteers to represent the holiday traditions from cultures around the globe. On the weekends, you can also enjoy live holiday performances. It’s the one-of-a-kind experience that brings a whole world of holiday joy under one roof.”  We’ll meet you there about noon, if that works, and plan on spending three to four hours taking it all in. Spectacular, isn’t it?

I know, I know, the weather has been so bad, for so long already (what happened to Autumn?) that it doesn’t seem possible that Winter officially starts today, Saturday, December 21st.  Yes, friends, it’s the Winter Solstice, the shortest daylight hours of the year, and time to celebrate!  Julia de Burgos Park, 1805 N. Albany is where we’ll find the western start to the 606 Parkway, that beautiful, even in winter, three and one half mile landscaped corridor, that starts here and ends in Walsh Park, 1722 N. Ashland Ave.  It’s an amazing place, but we’re here this evening because atop that little hill is a solar observation station, perfectly aligned and marked for the equinoxes and solstices. The sun sets at 4:22pm so dress warmly and meet us there about 4:00pm, so we can find each other, and meet and talk for a few minutes with other observers. A local group called “the Chicago Astronomer” may just have someone here; if so, that will add to the interest.  I’ll have a few questions ready, won’t you?

Christmas Around the World @ the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

I know 4:30pm may be early for a Saturday, but we’re all cold, and ready to warm up, sit down, and enjoy everyone’s company, away from the rush-rush of the season.  Want to try something different? Since we’re in the Logan Square neighborhood, how about a visit to Chiya Chai Cafe2770 N Milwaukee Ave.,  www.chiyachai.com, a warm, inviting spot that specializes in Nepalese cuisine. We invited a few friends, so with your group and ours, we should reserve a large table and prepare to share everything from Pork Vindaloo, a spicy curry dish with potatoes, to Deep Dish Lamb, a sumptuous curry with onions and ginger, and perhaps a Punjabi Spinach Paneer, as well.  The menu is extensive and glorious and I’m confident the staff will be happy to help us choose wisely.

Today, Monday December 23rd, marks the beginning of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, when our Jewish friends celebrate retaking the Temple in Jerusalem from Antiochus, a Greco-Syrian monarch who had been trying to force conversion to Hellenic paganism upon God’s Chosen People. After capturing the Temple, the Maccabean warriors found oil to light a lantern, by which to read the Torah — for one day. Miraculously, the lantern stayed lit for eight days, and that is why Jews light one new candle each day, on the menorah, to celebrate. Most of us, readers, are not Jewish, but so much of our history rests upon the foundations laid by the struggles of the Jews, that joining with them in joy and celebration is in order.

Chamber Mondays are an adventure we have yet to experience. It offers us the rich diversity of chamber music, which is a vastly underappreciated music form, so let’s visit this free afternoon concert and open our ears, hearts and minds to the wonders that some of Chicago’s most talented classical, jazz, and ethnic musicians and vocalists, are offering up, shall we?  The concerts are year round on “4th Mondays” at 12:15pm. This month, that’s today!  Of course, Chamber Music Mondays are held at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., so please don’t be late.

Goodness gracious, do you believe it? It’s only Tuesday, but somehow today is December 24th, Christmas Eve!!! Are the kids driving you crazy?  Is your family coming over or are you and your family heading out to visit others?  Whatever your plans, today and tomorrow, Christmas Day, please enjoy your friends and family, the food, the company, the traditions, (whatever yours might be), and give joy and peace to everyone you meet.  Let us all continue to hope, and work toward, fulfilling that first Christmas message: “Peace on Earth, Good will toward men.”

Thank you, yes, the holidays have been wonderful, but they are not over yet.  Agreed? Great! Please join us this Saturday, December 28th, back at the Mercury Theater, for another great concert: Merry Christmas Darling: Heidi Kettenring Sings Karen Carpenter. Let’s plan on the 7:30 performance, so we can meet for dinner before hand.  There are terrific restaurants very close to the theater, but really, Grassroots Neighborhood Grill is right next door and two minutes from our table to our theater seats.  Better yet, this is a true farm-to-table eatery, with the menu changing when new, fresh ingredients become available.  Our reservations are for 5:30pm, which gives us two hours to eat leisurely, listen to each other’s holiday stories, relax and laugh.  Ready for the show?

Ms. Kettenring is called “Chicago’s favorite leading lady” for good reason. She has won numerous awards and appeared in such great productions as Broadway in Chicago’s Wicked, The King and I, Funny Girl, Cats, and Oliver! Around the Town Chicago calls the show, “Glorious… An elegant, tear jerking, sing along concert event.” Songs include “Close To You,” “Merry Christmas Darling,” “For All We Know,” and “The Christmas Song”, among many others.  Yes, it’s quieter, and even romantic, a perfect way to ease down from Christmas and recharge for the New Year’s party, don’t you think?

Yes, I said it, and I don’t believe it either:  this Tuesday is December 31st, an that means it’s New Year’s Eve.  Yes, the year has just flown by, and YES, it’s time to celebrate.  We’re doing something rather different this year and hope that you’ll join us after work for Zoo Year’s Eve, Lincoln Park Zoo’s annual holiday celebration.  It’s adults only, please don’t bring the kids. We’ll meet you at the main entrance, 2001 North Clark Street, right at 4:30pm when the festivities begin.  There are over two and one half million lights strung up through the zoo for us to enjoy while we stroll through the various areas. Let’s sit down to eat and catch up at Eadie Levy’s Landmark Cafe, right here in the zoo, before we get back to strolling about.  Most of the zoo is open, do you believe it?

As midnight nears it’s time to head  towards the DJ, maybe play one of the games, grab one or another of the giveaways, and hey, it’s New Year’s Eve, so let’s have some champagne. Isn’t this a fabulous way to experience the countdown to 2020! Excuse me, it’s time to kiss the love of my life.  Go ahead, you love birds, we won’t look.

The festival lasts until 1am, but we are leaving shortly after midnight; I’ve had too many nearly-bad experiences while driving home late on NYE.  You my friends, travel safely as well.  See you next year!

December 2019