Keeping the Magic Magical

Our last couple weeks have been non-stop go go go. This weekend, we actually don’t have anywhere that we need to be. Sure, we need to get some Christmas shopping done. And, yes, we’ll probably make at least one trip to Target. But, we don’t have set times for anything.

It’s quite pleasant to think about.

Sometimes, with all of the running around, and must-dos, and places to go, and food to cook, and all of that….it’s easy to forget the more simple joys of the holidays. One of my favorites? Reading some of our favorite Christmas books!

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The girls love reading about the Grinch year round. The Night Before Christmas is always a good idea. And, my personal favorite, The Polar Express. I still get a bit emotional when he says that eventually all of this friends stopped being able to hear the bell…..NOT FOR ME! I STILL HEAR IT!……

When I was growing up, my mom would read The Polar Express every Christmas Eve. Now, she reads it to her grandkids when we go down for family Christmas #1. (The movie weirded me out – anyone else weirded out by it?)

So, this weekend, although we do have things that we need to get done…..I am going to strive to remember to take it easy (or easy-ish), and enjoy just being together by the Christmas tree. Because that’s when some of the most special moments can happen – when we stop and take a breather and just let the magic of the holidays happen.

What are your favorite simple joys of the holidays?

Winter Checklist – Update #1

The last few weekends have been nonstop busy. I’m actually very glad that we have nothing scheduled for this weekend so that we can get some work done around the house, get some Christmas shopping done, and maybe….just maybe….get some sleep.

Two weekends ago, we spent a day downtown to go to the Walnut Room and Christkindlmarket. The weather was outstanding! Christkindlmarket was actually really really busy because the weather had been so mild.

The tree in the Walnut Room was really beautiful. I love the colors this year! And there are color coordinated animal statues all around the base of the tree.

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Check out that blue penguin! How cute is he?!?

Another favorite thing to do when dining at the Walnut Room? Checking out the windows and the decorations outside the store, too.

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I love that some things don’t change. I’ve admired these giant trumpets (are they trumpets?) every year. So fun!

And Christkindlmarket? Definitely one of my favorite places to just wander around and see what there is to see. So many booths. So many things to see, buy, eat.

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So far…….

 

Winter Checklist

It’s time for a new checklist. The winter checklist is full of winter-y but mostly Christmas-y things that we will hopefully be able to accomplish in the next coming weeks. Most of these things are ones that we have traditionally done each year. I hope that each of these things are things that our girls want to do for many more years to come.

Our list of winter must-dos:

When we do the summer checklist, we generally have about three months to get everything done and are able to do much of the list during the week since the girls and I are all home for the summer. For the winter checklist, however, we have to get it all done in just a few weekends (for the most part).

A couple of the to-do list items have already been accomplished. The Mag Mile Lights Festival was last weekend. It’s always one of our favorite events of the holiday season. It’s a great combination of two of our favorite things, Christmas and Disney.

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Mickey Mouse celebrating his birthday on the Mag Mile

We’ve also already accomplished taking a picture with Santa – a couple times already! At the tree lighting at Yorktown, the girls had a picture taken with Santa and Mrs. Claus. And then, once again, at a tree lighting – this time at the Shops at 900 North Michigan, the girls got to see Santa again and this time sit on his lap and let him know what their Christmas list consisted of.

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The tree at the Shops at 900 North Michigan is truly stunning!

So, all in all, I’m feeling pretty good about our list. Hopefully, there will be even more Christmas-y things that we are able to do, even if they aren’t on the initial list.

Our list thus far:

What are your Christmas must-dos?

Bring on Christmas

I took down the Halloween decorations this morning. (Although, we still have to figure out what we are going to do with our pumpkins…..any ideas?)

We had giant eyeballs in the pine tree nearest to the house. Our scarecrow that we made at Scarecrow Fest and our jack-o-lanterns were positioned right by the front porch.

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It was all very festive and fun and spoooooooky.

But….

Now, my mind is turning toward Christmas. I know that we will do lights on the tree nearest the house like we do each year. We’ll do lights on the porch railings. But, I think that I want to do something more this year. Lights along the gutters? Something in the yard?

What are your decorating plans for Christmas?

So. Much. Candy.

We are having an epidemic in our house. An epidemic of too much candy. We have Christmas candy. We have leftover Halloween candy. And soon, there will be Valentine candy. So. Much. Candy. Now, normally, I would say that that just isn’t a problem. However, there comes a point when it’s just too much and you know it won’t be eaten.

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Here’s the bowl of candy. As you can see, there is an abundant amount of candy canes. Like a crazy amount of candy canes. Now, I like candy canes. They are fine. But I won’t sit down and snack on three or four of them at a time. Nope. Just not gonna happen. I will, however, sit down and snack on three or four pieces of peppermint bark…..

And that’s just what I did. Get rid of those candy canes by smashing them and them topping them with white chocolate.

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My Own Christmas To-Do List

It’s a well-known fact that it is very easy for me to overdue Christmas. There is just so much that can be done during the holidays in and near Chicago! How can you choose? So, well, I don’t choose and instead try to do everything. That might be why December is so exhausting…..well, that and I teach preschool so no matter what December is going to be exhausting. But, if you too are wanting to have a Christmas crammed with activities, here is my list of must-do’s during the holidays. (Close to Thanksgiving, I usually send Ryan a bunch of invites on Google calendar so that he knows what I’m planning.)

Mag Mile Lights Festival -This one is a great way to kick off the holidays, in my opinion. Plus, it combines two of my favorite things: Disney and Christmas decorations!

Christkindlemarket – It’s fun just to walk around but it’s even more fun if you buy some snacks. Since they are right across the street from each other, we usually combine going here with dinner at the Walnut Room.

Walnut Room – One of my all-time favorites. Ryan and I have been doing the Walnut Room since before we had kids. But, it’s even more fun now that we have kids. The girls love seeing the “Christmas fairies” and I love seeing the windows and the giant tree in the middle of the restaurant.

Holiday Magic (or “lights at the zoo.”) – Lots of zoos do their own version of zoo lights. We go to Brookfield because we are members there. But, I have many friends who go to see the lights at Lincoln Park Zoo and they love going there. So, I think that you are probably ok with picking a zoo and enjoying their lights. 🙂

Renegade Craft Fair – I love this because it offers a chance to purchase some interesting gifts for people.

Christmas Around the World at MSI – This has been one of my favorites since before I even lived in the Chicago area. The trees are beautiful and you still have time to check out some of the other exhibits after you see the trees.

Garfield Park Conservatory – This one is a new one to the list. But, it’s not a new one for a list of my favorite things to do during the winter. This really is one of my favorite places to visit in the winter. Walking in here in January, you can forget that it’s 2 degrees outside and just enjoy the tropical temperatures, sights, and smells. This was, however, the first year that we went during the Holiday Flower Show.

Walking (or Driving) Around And Looking at Lights – This one isn’t necessarily a “destination.” However, I do like to walk around downtown Chicago to see the lights. The big tree at Millennium Park always looks nice. But, I also enjoy taking a scenic route home from Target or the mall to check out neighborhood lights. And, a big part of our Christmas Eve tradition involves driving around and looking at lights. That’s what we do following Christmas Eve Mass. 🙂

 

What are your must-do activities at Christmas?

Christmas Tree…Oh Christmas Tree

This Christmas, I have really loved our tree. Really, I really loved all of our Christmas decorations. We added more lights to the exterior of the house and are already planning on adding more next year. The Christmas tree looked pretty good all season (although I’ve lost more strings of lights…..thankfully day-after-Christmas-shopping brought some good deals on more lights).

In addition to the tree, there are some traditions that I will always cherish. Our “cookies for Santa” plate. My Santas on the fireplace mantle. And, of course, egg nog in a Santa mug.

Merry Christmas! And may you “Keep Christmas with you, all through the year.”

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