Gil and I are on a short trip to Chicago this weekend. He's attending a conference, and I'm tagging along to do some sightseeing.
I've flown through Chicago a dozen times, and have even spent a few days just outside the city to see family, but have never actually visited Chicago. After two days here, I have to say it's a great city. The Christmas decorations are lovely, the buildings in the downtown are SO cool, and there are a lot of interesting museums as well.
Being here has re-awakened my Christmas spirit. This year, I've found it really difficult to get into the holiday mood. I've had Christmas music on my car radio since November, I put the tree up weeks ago, and I have enjoyed a few festive parties thus far, but I haven't felt my usual joy this season. Gil is working all next week, and it feels like another year is ending while I haven't accomplished anything yet. Bah humbug. :-)
Enter Chicago. Having a few days in a lovely city without the pressure of working or buying gifts has allowed me to just enjoy the lights, the carols, the Salvation Army bell ringers, and get happy. Today, I visited the Moody Church and there was a children's choir practicing in the sanctuary. On Thursday morning, when I went down to the hotel lobby, there were four people in 1800s clothes singing "Carol of the Bells'. I'm starting to feel Christmas creeping into my mood.
To make matters even better, I've found what is pretty much the holy grail to me at holiday time: A genuine German Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market). We have one in Toronto, but I checked it out recently and was disappointed. The Chicago market, however, seems to have been transported here by elves straight from my dearest Deutschland. It has German ornaments and candy, and all the Bratwurst, Pfeffernuesse, Kaesespaetzle, and Gluehwein you can ask for. I loved it so much that after visiting on Thursday, I had to hightail it back on Friday for a Bratwurst. (Okay, true confession: I was tempted to go back again today, but it was the exact opposite direction from my intended destination.)
Anyway readers, I hope you're getting into the holiday spirit and enjoying the season. Frohe Weihnachten! :-)