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 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?