A Christmas to Remember

I just finished shoveling the last couple inches of the light, fluffly snow that’s been steadily falling this past week. A perfect end to the best Christmas I’ve had in two decades.

Some highlights:

  • Having my immediate family all in the same room at the same time on Christmas day. This in itself made the day. To my mom, dad, sister, and Bob: Thank you for making the drive, for spending the time, for being together on Christmas. Let’s not wait 15 years to do it again.
  • Teknikal Diffikulties Advent Calendar Day 22: Happy Solstice[mp3]. While each piece of Cayenne’s Advent Calendar is enjoyable, this installment felt so perfect and comforting I stopped shoveling to appreciate the significance of the shortest day of the year.
  • Taking a day-long break from 5 months of heavy programming (in addition to podcasts, email, and the internet as a whole).
  • Jeremy’s fantastic home-made butternut squash ravioli on Christmas Eve dinner
  • Cooper making a bee line for the simple wooden train under the tree on Christmas Day.
  • Assembling Cooper’s new trike.
  • Cracking open a Wake-n-Bake Coffee Oatmeal Imperial Stout from Athens, GA’s Terrapin Beer Co. last night after the day was done. A tasty, frothy brew, paired well with 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream. Thanks Pat.
  • Only a single holiday-related dramatic incident that sorted itself out quite neatly once the moment passed.
  • As I write this, Cooper is sitting in the tallest snow bank in the yard. Content as can be.
  • The entryway shelf overflowing with holiday greetings, cards, photos, and letters.
  • Me: “Cooper, What does Christmas mean?”
    C: “Um…People come over.”

Tolls, Feast, and Central Street

This past weekend was the second scheduled Chicago trip for this summer. Like previous trips, all my frustrations and annoyances with the city back. Immediately. As we sat for 20-minute in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam behind the 85 cent toll booth at O’Hare.

What a horrible way to introduce visitors to the city. I strongly encourage the State of Illinois Dept of Tourism to sell $20 weekend Illinois Tollway I-Passes on the border. Hell, I strongly encourage the State of Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri, and Iowa Depts. of Tourism to sell them. Illinois is damaging their tourist reputation by not making the program visitor-friendly ($50 & “Allow 7 to 10 days for processing and delivery” = not helping).

Sunday, we grabbed a pretty good brunch at Feast with Jon, Carolyn, Tesia, and Erin. As expected, the conversation, Feast’s outside seating, and the breakfast potatoes were delightful. While both the garbage omelet and service showed promise, they were awkwardly hesitant.

On the way out of town, we stopped by our old neighborhood on Evanston’s Central street. All our frustration melted away as we walked the sidewalk in and out of the storefronts. In front of the new independent coffee shop, we bumped in to Larry Maday, manager at the Video Adventure. One of the reason I’m disappointed on Netflix and Amazon recommendations is because of Larry’s ability to know exactly what we’re in the mood for. We chatted a little. Just like we did when we lived 2 block down.

Like we never left.