Christmas in Chicago

This year was technically our first Christmas in Chicago; last year we were poised to host our Pittsburgh relatives at our new Chi-Town condo, but a family illness prevented them from traveling. So we piled all our presents into the FJ Cruiser and hightailed it to the 'Burgh. Our cousins were so grateful that they made my kids this amazing construction paper Christmas tree (my husband's family is Jewish but gracefully tolerate my hysterical obsession with all things Kris Kringle)...

Fast forward a year and here's the Real Thing, decorated with the help of my children. What an incredibly fun and wondrous tradition - I skipped the tree thing for almost 10 years, and now that I have 2 little rug rats, I've recommenced all those special and dearly missed Christmas rituals. 

We got a white Christmas this year, or should I say a White December - it snowed all month long and I can't tell you how inconvenient it made my workout schedule! I didn't run outside for 3 weeks, and lots of time was spent indoors making Santa-shaped cookies with sprinkles.

And eating them. 

But instead of feeling Scrooge-y about consuming more sugar / burning less calories, I allowed myself to indulge just a little. I snuggled with the kids, watched nostalgic holiday movies, stayed up late with the husband drinking apple cider gin cocktails, and wrapped presents, humming with the buzz of Christmas spirit (the gin helped).

On Christmas Day, I spent the morning watching my kids open their presents, reminiscing about my magical Christmas mornings as a child. Every year my brother and I would sneak upstairs to open our stockings and overload on chocolates before the sun was up. My mom and dad would put on Christmas choral music and we'd spend the day together opening presents, eating a salty-sweet breakfast, and deciding on which movie we should go see in the late afternoon. My parents really knew how to do Christmas, and I aspire every year to recreate that same sense of delight for my children.

The weather opened up on the 26th and the temperature climbed into the 30's. So I put on my running shoes and got outside, looping 6 miles to my favorite park and back. It was a difficult distance after such a long break, but I feel a sense of accomplishment for getting out there and getting it done.

All in all, our Christmas was perfect. I allowed myself to take a break and enjoy this most precious time of year, I felt a deeper appreciation for my family and for those traditions we carry through the generations, and I offered up gratitude for the childhood memories my family so lovingly helped to create during Christmases past. I hope you, too, enjoyed your holiday season. Now time to turn your thoughts toward 2014! - Xoxoxo Lara