Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Chicago Christmas Plan

While I'm terrible about decorating, slow about getting presents for anyone other than myself, and in possession of a rabid dislike of that holiday classic to end all holiday classics, It's A Wonderful Life, I still really enjoy Christmas and Christmas related activities. (How's that for a sentence? I wanted to put in a lot of clauses. Get it? Clauses? I'll see myself out.) While I've lived in Chicago for the better part of 10 years, there's a lot of stuff that my city has to offer that I've never experienced. This year, in the run up to Christmas and New Year's, I'm going to try to work some of them in, and enjoy a new tradition.

Ice Skating in Millennium Park
I actually did this last year for all of about half and hour. I don't have the best balance anyway, so sticking me on sharp metal blades on hard, unforgiving ice was only just short of disastrous. Nevertheless, Brian and I are going to try to make it a tradition, first grabbing a drink at the beautiful Palmer House bar and then heading over to the park for a skate. This year, I'm wearing a petticoat, and possibly some butt pads.

This is right down the street from where I work, so I have no excuse not to go! Ok, yes, it's total kitsch, but that's kind of what Christmas is about, isn't it? They've got lots of crafts and trinkets, as well as food and hot mulled wine, which I've never had and would love to try.

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights Festival
Lincoln Park Zoo is a Chicago institution. It's in Lincoln Park, which is itself pretty scenic, it's close to downtown, and it's free. Every year, they make a beautiful light display, and I've heard from a nearsighted friend that if you have poor vision (which I do), it's a lot of fun to just wander around and enjoy all the shimmering, flickering halos of light.

A Christmas Carol at The Goodman Theater
This one might be a little outside of my rather miniscule budget, but my neighbor is Bob Cratchit. No, really! A Christmas Carol has been running at The Goodman Theater in Chicago for the past 37 years, and he's been doing the Cratchit role for the past seven or eight of them. The Goodman is a pretty prestigious theater, and this seems like the sort of Christmas tradition that gets very firmly engrained if you take your kids.

Double Feature at The Music Box
The Music Box is an independent theater, and one of my favorites. They do Rocky Horror every month (although, like most people, I usually only go around Halloween. Sorry, kids), and show tons of second run and independent films. This year, they've got two Christmas-themed double features - White Christmas and It's a Wonderful Life, and Home Alone and Die Hard.
I can't really explain why I hate It's a Wonderful Life so much. It just irritates me. George Bailey's constant freakouts, Clarance's bland platitudes, the little girl with her annoying, piping voice - it all just coalesces into me sitting on a couch rolling my eyes so hard they almost pop out of my head.
I love White Christmas, though, despite the fact that it hinges on the most incompetent eavesdropping  the world has ever seen.

Chocolate Chestnut Pie at Bang Bang Pie Shop
I have heard from numerous friends and loved ones that Bang Bang Pie shop is the place to go in Chicago for pie, biscuits, and candied bacon, and yet I still have to set foot in the place. A serious oversight on my part, and one that I really want to rectify for their seasonal chocolate chestnut pie. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. 

What are some Christmas traditions in your area? Is there anything that you're particularly looking forward to?


  1. It seems like Chicago has a lot to do for Christmas. Ice skating and zoolights sound like a lot of fun.

    1. It's one of the perks of living in a big city - there's always something to do if you're looking for it.

  2. Bang Bang Pie Shop is like heroin- tread carefully my friend. Or else in a month youll notice a quarter of your income is going straight to them. And ooo I didnt know The Music Box has old Christmas movies up!! That's exciting news- I definitely want to go. And did you hear of that new ribbon ice rink they opened? I want to try that out- I feel lik it'd be much more fun than going round and round in circles :)

    xo marlen
    Messages on a Napkin

    1. I can literally see that ice rink from my work. It looks so cool! I would love to try it out, but I can't actually skate and I spend more time on my ass than on my feet. I'd hate to get stranded halfway around.

  3. I'm all up for that last one! Yum yum!

    1. Haha, yes! Seasonal food and drink is one of my favorite things. Doesn't really matter which season.

  4. Ah, I've already shared one of the main festive happenings from my neighbourhood - the local street fair, but other than that most years an ice rink will pop up at a local park. It wasn't around last year but it's back this one and I can't wait to go! I wish we had somewhere selling amazing pie though... I love the zoo idea too, even with my mixed feelings about zoos.

    1. I also have mixed feelings about them, but this one is pretty good. Good habitats, well taken care of, that sort of thing. It's hard to say one way or the other what's best, since there are so many species being hunted to extinction or losing their natural habitats.

  5. You're making me want to go to Chicago for Christmastime.
    Hmmm, aside from December Nights at Balboa Park, I can't really think of others I've been to in recent time. Oh! I remember going to the Hotel Del as a kid with my mom to see the tree in the lobby and drink hot cocoa.

  6. Goodness gracious does that pie look incredible!!! I don't have a big sweet tooth in general, but come the holiday season, one suddenly develops and I certainly wouldn't say no to a (GF) slice of that. Yum!!!

    I hear you about It's a Wonderful Life. Though I full acknowledge it as the important work of cinema that it is and know it's a Christmas classic, it's never been one of the movies that I feel compelled to watch each holiday season either. If I catch it, great, if no, no biggie. I'm much more drawn towards movies like White Christmas, Miracle on 34th Street, and Meet Me in St. Louis.

    I hope you have a fabulous last weekend before Christmas, dear gal!
    ♥ Jessica