this year i get to go to my favorite city at my favorite time of year.  while some people might dread chicago at winter time, I LOVE IT!  and that is exactly where i am heading.

why do i love it?  i think it is rooted back in my early childhood.  while i was born in chicago, i have no memories of it.  we moved to st. louis when i was just a few months old.  however, we have gone back many times and i even moved there for my first job out of college.

christmas eve with my fathers side of the family is an experience.  when we were all younger and my grandparents were still alive it was at there house.  we would all (2 grand parents, their 8 children, and their children no family has less than 3) pack into their small family room, hover close to the ground (the cloud of smoke from my grandfathers lucky strikes was a permanent fixture in the room) and tear into our gifts.  first came the godparent gifts, then the grab bag gifts.  by this time there was noise, paper, and pandemonium.  I have no memories of being at these christmas eves only reminders from pictures and stories.

now that my grandparents are no longer with us, we celebrate at my aunts amazing house in oak park (its like the type of houses you see in movies), there is no cloud of smoke and most of the noise comes from the cousins drinking too much.  thankfully there are still little nuggets, as cousins have now had their own children, who scream for joy when they open their gifts.

we have changed the grab bag a bit and usually end the night at a dive bar reminiscing about the early years, the cloud of smoke and the monster that lived behind grandma’s garage, and the great family jim and jean created.

not only because of my family do i love chicago  the city comes alive at christmas, the white blanket of snow cleanly coves the windy city and brings it back to the city i picture in my mind.  while it can be bitterly cold a quick stop into marshal fields (i will NOT call it macys) and a trip up to the walnut room not only transports you back to a different time when shopping was not something you did on the way home but it was a destination.  no matter how old i am seeing that giant christmas tree brings me the joy that christmas morning once did.  after warming up with a hot toddie, a peppermint (spiked) hot chocolate and a little nosh, one is ready to view the windows.  this is probably the one time in my life when i am able to calmly face any crowd.  i am transfixed every time i see the windows.  i prefer not to know the theme of the windows until i go down to see them.  preferably with a starbucks in hand and snow flakes falling.

this year i am also going to bring a bag full of my own gluten free christmas cookies, as they are tres hard to find and i already know i like them!

After going to college in the midwest and living there for a year a holiday in chicago also means catching up with all my fav people.  on my visit i will be getting together with 2 sorority sisters ( i was lucky enough to see them both when i was in for the marathon) and my housemate HEP (she ran the marathon but i never got to see her), my bestie from Luxembourg JM over at urban explorer, and hopefully KL.  i was suppose to meet up with all of them the monday after the marathon but seeing as i could not walk and had a stress fracture in my hip i had to cancel.

jm and i already have plans to go to zoo lights (at lincoln park zoo) and drink warm drinks, hot toddy’s or peppermint (schnapps) hot chocolate.  hopefully ending the night with a night cap!

BUT before i head out west (if you remember in the great gatsby they refer to the mid west as out west so i think if Fitzgerald could do it so can i!) i have lost to finish here.  today i am hoping to finish my christmas card design in ilustrator (AMC already got a little peak!) and bring it over the the printer.  i also have my first final tonight, so i will be heading to the lib to STUDY soonish.

i also need to try converting my grandma’s spritz cookie recipe to gluten free.  i feel like to do this i really need to follow Shauna James Ahern suggestions and buy a food scale.  i am also going to use a lard butter mixture.  i read an recipe on line from a blog.  i thought i book marked it as i would love to direct you all to it but now i cannot find it anywhere.  if it was you let me know!

alright at 6 minutes to 8 my play time is over.  off to studying.


1 Comment

Filed under daily musings, family, food, gluten free, travel

One response to “.holiday.to.do’s.

  1. nancy

    Anne Marie:

    I loved your blog today. I have wonderful memories of Christmas Eve at Grandma and Grandpa’s house and I love the fact that you too cherish those memories, if only from the pictures you see. Christmas Eve at Aunt Terri’s house is different, thank God we no longer have the layer of smoke and I hope that my children will also have those fond memories of Hughes Christmas’ past.

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