Five on Friday

1. Christkindlmarket

The start of Chicago’s Christkindlmarket kicked off late Friday morning, and I stopped by for lunch with my Mom. The candy-cane striped tents lined Daley Plaza and each one produced a delicious scent or had an attractive display of handmade knickknacks placed proudly in front. We ate latkes with applesauce and sour cream, apple strudel, drank hot chocolate, and purchased a few delectable goodies from the Christkindlmarket’s famous Candy Castle. My Mom purchased chocolate-filled advent calendars for all of the kids in our family, and I bought some of the roasted pecans – my favorite!

2. Week 2 of C25K

I finished up week two of C25K and running is getting easier. I’m not as fast as I would like to be, but speed isn’t the point when first training to become a runner – the ability to complete the distance is what matters. I noticed a section of the gym is on a slight hill and the treadmill I had been using was on an inclined floor. That was part of the reason I was having such a tough time during week one. I had unintentionally been running uphill the entire time! I switched over to a treadmill in an area of the gym that doesn’t have an incline and it became a lot easier to run after making the change. I’ll consider working inclines back into my running routine after I have a few more weeks of practice under my belt.

3. Shopping for Cousins’ Birthday Gifts

On Saturday, my cousins Delaney and Makayla had their birthday celebration. Delaney turned 6, Makayla turned 3, and their party was a Vamperina theme at a play zone park. There aren’t many moments that make me feel old, but when my cousin explained who Vamperina was, I felt pretty old. I had absolutely no idea who she was talking about, but I don’t have children, I’m rarely around children, and I don’t have cable, so it makes sense why I’ve never heard of this animated vampire. She did, however, make for an adorable party theme. I never get to shop for kids, so I decided to buy clothes for the girls. I went a little crazy at Old Navy because all of the little clothes were so cute. I may have slightly lived vicariously through them because the outfits I bought were absolutely clothes I would dress my own kids in. (If I had kids.) I also to made sure to add in some JoJo Hair Bows to their bags – Delaney’s one gift request.

4. Chicago Youth Programs – Letters to Santa

My office is partnering with Chicago Youth Programs and doing a Letters to Santa gift drive for the holidays. There’s a mailbox at the concierge desk in the main lobby and it’s filled with letters from children to Santa. The letters include the child’s name, Christmas wish, something they are proud of, and something they want to become better at. Initially I only planned to buy a gift for one child, but I ended up taking three letters. I have two girls and one boy, ages 6, 10, and 6. Their Christmas wishes are: a Barbie doll, a packet of bath bombs, and a GameStop gift card. I’m really excited to buy gifts for them. In previous years, I’ve been part of group “Adopt a Family” programs at Christmas and I’ve donated food to pantries, but I’ve never gotten to play Santa for a child before. I’m so excited!

5. Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting

Friday night was the 105th City of Chicago Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The festivities took place across the street from my building in Millennium Park, so I walked over after work. The park and surrounding streets were overwhelmingly crowded. A stage was set up in at the entrance of the park and someone from the Disney Channel was performing on the stage. I didn’t recognize her, but all of the kids were going wild when she walked out to sing. I could only see a small part of the Christmas tree because there were so many people crowding the area. I looked up at my building’s balcony and saw people overlooking Millennium Park from several floors up. I went back to my building to watch the lighting ceremony from the balcony, and it was so much better than watching it from the street. Not only did I have a view of the tree, I could see the Millennium Park ice-skating rink and all of the Christmas lights on the buildings in the skyline. At 6:30PM, the crowd started counting down from ten and when they reached one, the tree lit up. Hearing so many people cheer sounded like an excited roar from where I was standing. The excitement felt similar to that of a New Year’s Eve countdown. Fireworks went off from the roof of a building adjacent to the park and the crowd roared their happy cheers again. In my 28 years of coming to Chicago the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony was one of the most magical moments I have ever experienced in the city. It was truly wonderful.

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