I've been feeling warm and fuzzy lately - right now, literally. I mean, right now I'm sitting in my living room in sweatpants, an old t-shirt, and this awesome old J.Lo robe (yes seriously) that is bright pink and very, very fuzzy wuzzy.
But in general, I've felt warm and fuzzy lately. It's this time of year that does it to me - the holidays. I love seeing people around town, shopping for gifts or even at the grocery store. It may sound cliche but I do honestly feel as though there is a different feeling in the air. People are smiley and they give money to charitable organizations and they go to parties and drink. Drinking probably helps a lot for some of them.
I love Christmas shopping. I play a game when I'm at a store (any kind of store, although stores in the mall work better than, say, a Walgreen's or a grocery store): I look at any one item and try to think of who I know that would want it. I've realized lately that I know a LOT of people. I was at a store today (okay, okay - it was Justice - picking up something for my future (!!!!!) niece) and I saw a cow-print notebook, and I thought - hmmm. Paula would love that.
Paula being a friend from high school that I think I have seen twice since graduation.
And if I could afford it, I would have bought that notebook right there and sent it to her...except she's in London right now and it would probably cost a lot.
Anyways. I love this time of the year. Pete and I made an advent calendar, a la Jordan Ferney. We got out my planner and used a red pen and decided that every day of December, until December 24th, we were going to do something Christmasey. I'll post about that at a later date. But we're going to get a CHRISTMAS tree this week and decorate it! And we're going to watch Christmas movies and bake cookies and make decorations and buy presents and wrap them prettifully.
I love this time of year.
This is the first year I won't be celebrating Christmas day with my family. I admit that in years past, it's been like I wasn't there. I dated a guy for almost two years and HATED that I wasn't with him on Christmas. I spent a lot of time on the phone with him on the 25th. Looking back on those moments makes me sad. I wish I had spent more time with my family.
The first two years of our relationship, Pete and I celebrated Christmas with our families separately - both of us in Illinois, on opposite ends of the state. His family meets up in Cairo; mine outside of Chicago - but it comforted me knowing that we were at least in the same state, as opposed to across the country or even the world.
[Marina City on December 24th, 2006]
One of my favorite Christmas moments was in 2006. We were driving up to Chicago on Christmas Eve, and on the way up, I said that we should drive around downtown and look at the Christmas lights. Mom and Emme (my sister) didn't want to, but dad said we could. So after we got into Westchester, IL around 9 PM, dad and I said hi to the grandparents and headed downtown. I loved spending time with just him. It was magical driving around downtown. It was dead. We had the entire Millennium Park area to ourselves (probably because it was FREEZING), including the Bean.
[Dad and I, on the terrace that overlooks the ice-skating rink in Millennium Park]
[Just us in the Bean]
We walked around Millennium/Grant Park for a bit and then drove around the city. It looked so peaceful. I love just driving around cities - even St. Louis, which I know like the back of my hand and is so familiar, it seems like I could never see anything new.
[Beautiful lit-up city!]
I love how Marina City is all lit up in that above picture. Those are parking lots on the bottom, and apartments up on top. My sister and I always called those the corncobs when we were little (okay, okay - I was calling them that up until this last October, when I learned their actual name) and always said, "Dad DAD DAD DAD DAD LET'S GO BY THE CORNCOBS!"
[It really was just us and like five other people... Love this view of the Jay Pritzker Pavillion]
Dad and I snuck up on the stage at the Jay Pritzker Pavillion. Okay, it wasn't really sneaking - there weren't any guard rails or anything - but that's me in the above picture, in the middle of the stage. It's funny because looking back on this experience, I've seen so many artists there that I LOVE - like the Decemberists and the Sea and Cake and Fleet Foxes...
I'm not going to lie. It's going to be weird not spending Christmas with my family this year. A couple of Easters ago, I went down to Cairo and when I called mom to say, "Happy Easter!"I totally lost it on the phone. And my family doesn't even celebrate Easter. We used to go to church and we always had an Easter egg hunt (usually just the four of us), but that was about it. There was no lamb. We never went up to Chicago for Easter, because why go all the way up there for two days?
But I was sad to not be with my weirdo, crazy family. And if that's how I was at Easter, I can't even imagine how Christmas will be. And don't get me wrong - I LOVE my soon-to-be-official-family, the Wissingers and the Stouts. They have all been amazingly wonderful at welcoming me into their family and just...making me feel at home. I am SO excited to be a Wissinger. I cannot emphasize that enough :)