One of my absolute favorite holiday traditions is our annual day downtown at Christkindmarket.
They set up a little German style Christmas village in Daley Plaza, (for those of you unfamiliar with Chicago, that’s right by the Picasso, which I managed to NOT take the obligatory photo of this year). It’s become our annual tradition since my BF and I first starting dating. He, apparently, has been going for years, but I, on the other hand, had no idea it even existed until the first time we went (he says I apparently had never heard of lots of thing other people know about, but that’s another story).
Anyway, it’s an awesome day full of dark beer, potato pancakes, chocolate covered fruit on a stick, spiced wine drunk from ceramic boots, glass ornament shopping, strolling though Macy’s, wandering into whatever other stores happen to catch our eye, and then strolling back through the village one last time for a couple more treats before we catch the El home.
It’s hard to pin down my absolute favorite thing about the day. My BF and I don’t get a lot of time off together (our regular work schedules have no day off overlap whatsoever), so it’s a rare treat for us to spend a day leisurely strolling around, just enjoying each others’ company. It’s a day that we don’t have to worry about the kids destroying the house, or the piles of laundry in the bedroom, or the grocery shopping that needs to be done, or any of the other house house annoyances that can overtake your brain if you let them. It’s a day for soaking up the city, snapping photos, and just relaxing.
We had perfect weather that day too. It was just warm enough to be comfortable with a coat and hat on, and just cold enough that a few minutes in the warming tent for food and beer was welcoming. This week we’ve had a freakishly warm spell (as in 70 degree days in December – unheard of!), so I’m kind of glad that we went last week when the weather at least felt Christmas-y. I adore warm weather, but walking around in a t-shirt and seeing people wearing flip flops amongst the Christmas displays would have felt a bit weird.
Of course we can home with some treasures, like we do every year. We picked up a couple new glass ornaments for our tree (pictured above) some adorable paw mittens for our daughter (one of which she promptly lost the very next day despite the clips I also bought to fasten them to her coat sleeves), a cool new beer stein to add to our growing collection, and some chocolates.
I always drool over the beautiful intricate wooden pyramid windmills every year (you know what I’m talking about? The ones where you light the candle and it makes the windmill spin?) but they’re always a little more than I want to spend, and too fragile to be lugging all over the city. Besides, leaving stuff on my wish list gives us a reason to go back the next year.
I’m slightly obsessed with the glass ornament shops. I grew up in a house where the Christmas decorations went up the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m used to a Christmas tree literally dripping with ornaments, from cool glass antiques from the 20’s and 30’s, to cheap but pretty balls from Target, to paper and cotton ball homemade ornaments made in grade school. Every year my parents bought me one or two ornaments, and when I moved out my mom gave me a nice chunk of her massive collection to start off my own tree. I admire the beautifully curated and color coordinated trees that some people do, but in my own home I love a good mismatched collection. The best part about the glass ornament shops is that you can find almost anything under the sun. Glass ice cream Sunday? Got it. Glass rooster? Got it. Glass flags? They have a pretty huge assortment. I could spend days browsing in there.
Just looking back at my photos is making me look forward to going back next year. Probably getting a little ahead on myself when I realize that I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping, and we still have to go pick out our tree!