Living 300 miles away from my family (and now 1,700 miles away from the tallest sister) isn’t easy. As I mentioned last week, I’m close with my family and not being 15 minutes away from them wears on me.
Luckily, their love for Chicago nearly equals mine, and I’ve enjoyed visits from them at a rate of almost once a month since I moved last February.
Ryan and I couldn’t go home for Thanksgiving last week, and in a very gracious move, my parents and sister agreed to spend the holiday in the Windy City instead.
So we crammed all five of us into my tiny one bedroom apartment and made the most of our few days together.
We kicked off the long weekend at my aunt’s house for a full family Thanksgiving meal – complete with aunts, uncles, cousins, and Nana.
On Friday evening, after I got in 8 hours of work and my family hung out downtown, I convinced them to go for dinner at my favorite tapas place in the entire world – Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba. NOM. You can’t really enjoy tapas unless you’re with other people, so Ryan and I beg visitors to go with us whenever we get the chance.
After stuffing ourselves full of bacon-wrapped dates, meats, cheeses, paella, and sangria, we headed to the Lincoln Park Zoo for opening night of Zoo Lights.
I’ve always been fascinated with strung lights around the holidays in Chicago. They’re quite literally EVERYWHERE downtown. Seeing them all go up over the last few weeks has left this little jumpy feeling of joy in my stomach. The holiday light displays are lovely.
Zoo Lights didn’t disappoint. While most of the animals were in for the night, we saw the big cats inside and plenty of light displays to officially kick off the Christmas season.
On the spur of the moment, we decided to check out the wait at the Signature Lounge, a classy restaurant and bar at the top of the Hancock Building. For the first time ever, not only was there no wait, but we also got a table on a window. A Christmas miracle.
We all crammed around a tiny table and stared out the window while sipping our fancy drinks. The view, as always on clear nights, was incredible. I’m continually blown away by the beauty of Chicago.
The next day, we ate breakfast at my favorite brunch locale, Hash House A Go Go. I can only eat there a few times a year because of its enormous portion sizes, but damn, it never disappoints. Delicious every time. I had to nap afterward to deal.
My family headed home afterward, anxious to sleep on something other than my couch that night. Ryan convinced me to emerge from my food coma and dragged me to Christkindlmarket, an annual German festival in Daley Plaza.
We sipped spiced wine out of tiny boots, ate things stuffed with cheese, and bought enough German candy to keep us stocked up on sweets until Christmas.
On the way home, I insisted we stop by the big Christmas tree at its new home in Millennium Park. We only snapped a few pictures and gaped at the long line for ice skating for a few minutes before hopping off to dinner, but it was worth it. The tree is gorgeous!
As much as I’m dreading single-digit weather, winter in Chicago has always been one of my most favorite things. I love the lights, the window displays, the way you can always expect at least a little snow once every few week, and the runs for hot chocolate. It’s all awesome.
Ryan and I have a lot of “indoor” activities planned for the next few months – museum trips, finishing up our list of local breweries, stand up comedy shows and more.
In fact, we have ice skating at the park, exploring the Chicago Cultural Center, and the Potted Potter show on deck for this weekend alone.
Make sure to visit next week to hear about which was my favorite!