A Different Kind of Holiday

We have no snow this year. It really doesn’t seem like Christmas without the snow, but I guess we don’t have any control over that. On the other hand, it hasn’t been all that cold so it’s been easy to walk around Chicago without freezing to death. This morning, I walked down Rush Street to meet my friend Jerry at the Original Pancake House restaurant. I started out to a very high-carb day with a Dutch Baby.

I’ve been reading a book called The Living Great Lakes which was the “Best Book of 2003” by the Outdoor Writers Association. From the deck of the Malabar, Jerry Dennis points out landmarks of interest and then adds a personal anecdote or a historical tale. I’m enjoying learning about my new home through his stories. Steeped in southern history, I’m spellbound by the sailing, Native American and winter stories. It gives me a whole new perspective.

Dennis explains that Chicago was one of the first cities to set aside their lakefront for public land. That’s why all of these parks and public spaces stretch for miles in what would be prime real estate property. I witnessed the benefits this weekend at Millenium Park.

Millenium Park…

Yesterday, I took a walk to the Christkindlmarket. This jam-packed international market has always drawn my attention with its little huts and colorful trimmings. I’ve never wandered in because of the crowds but I decided to give it one more try.

African-American drummers lined both corners and a crowd rocked to the percussive beat. Children laughed out loud while parents in black coats and knit hats pushed them along in the crowd. The energy was palpable, and I found myself smiling for no reason. As I neared the market, the crowd thickened even further. Women with small decorative mugs of hot chocolate and spiced wine shopped for ornaments. The smell of Bratwurst, meatballs, strudel and stollen wafted through the air. People seemed patient, happy and festive.

Maybe I don’t care about the snow at the holidays. I’ve learned over the years that holidays vary in their presentation. I’ve spent some grieving with a hope to just get through it. Others have been more traditional. I spent one at a casino buffet with family, and I’ve spent several alone. The last couple of years I’ve chosen to be with friends and strangers in a happy hotel. We may gather among the masses in a busy Chicago festival, on the levee in Cajun Country, or in a snowy landscape in the mountains. The holiday season reflects what’s in your heart. Make it yours.

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