1. Before flying off to Seattle for a few days last week, I went home to Michigan to celebrate Christmas with my family.
Lake Michigan, that snow-generating body of water, threw a bit of a monkey wrench in our usual Christmas celebrations. It started to snow on the way home from church on Christmas Eve morning (which, being the last Sunday in Advent, which just a regular, Advent-y, Sunday service, not a Christmas service) and didn’t stop snowing…ever. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true, but it didn’t really stop snowing until the night of Christmas Day. The snow wasn’t too bad on Christmas Eve, but it was really, really bad on Christmas morning. It was so bad, in fact, that we didn’t even make it to church that morning, which is absolutely, 100% unheard of in my family. The only things that ever kept us from church under any circumstance growing up were contagious illnesses or church itself cancelling the service, so to not go to church on Christmas of all days was A Big Deal. My mom’s church (the church we always go to on Christmas morning) now streams its services online, so we watched at home, but it definitely wasn’t the same.
Christmas itself was nice, though. Only one of my cousins and cousins-in-law weren’t able to make it (it was their year to spend Christmas with the cousin-in-law’s family), which was a pretty impressive turnout for us lately. Two of my three cousins lived abroad from 2015-2017 (one of them still does), so it’s been tough to get the entire family together for any occasion–in fact, I don’t remember the last time every single one of us was together for something. Regardless, it was really lovely to see the family that could make it, especially considering the snowstorm situation. The highlight of the get-together, other than seeing my family, of course, was that my aunt and uncle’s dog most unexpectedly decided that I was The Chosen One on Christmas. Their dog is obsessed with my aunt and usually never leaves her side, but on Christmas, she (the dog) jumped up onto my lap while we ate appetizers and didn’t leave until I kicked her off after we had finished opening presents a couple hours later–which I only did because I felt bad that everyone else was helping turn over the room from appetizers/present-opening to dinner while I was just sitting there with a dog on my lap. But it did make me feel pretty important 🙂
Now, however, I’ve been dealing with a shockingly strong case of post-Christmas blues. I never like the Christmas season ending, exactly, and taking down Christmas decorations is one of my least favorite things (not only because I don’t like how much work it is, but because I hate the end result: a boring, blah, unfestive living space. Putting up Christmas decorations is a lot of work, too, but at least you get something pretty out of it.), but man, this year has been rough. Like, crying-while-taking-the-ornaments-off-the-tree rough. I’m not really an OMG CHRISTMAS!!!!1!!1!! sort of person–Easter is by far my favorite holiday, in fact–but there’s just something about everything being over, especially after months of everything happening (going straight from my birthday to the marathon to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s with barely a second to breathe), that really gets me down. I think part of what got to me so much this year was not being able to go to church on Christmas. Going to church is important to me, not so much from a piety standpoint, but more because it’s just one of those intrinsic parts of the rhythm of my week that makes me feel like myself–like going for a long run on a Saturday, or my lunchtime walks on weekdays. Obviously the benefits I get out of going to church are different than those I get from exercise, but it’s still a part of what I feel makes me who I am, so not going on one of the biggest days of the year, not getting to participate in all of that, felt, I guess, like training for the Chicago Marathon all the way up through the last run on the Thursday before the race and then not getting to do the race itself. And, much like the Chicago Marathon, there’s no “next week” for Christmas: I have to wait an entire year for it to come around again. I don’t know, maybe I’m being petty, but it was a big disappointment for me, and I think made me feel like I didn’t get the Christmas I had expected or was used to. So all of that, combined with the dread I feel of staring down a solid three months of grey and cold and gloom with no string of major events (birthday, marathon, et. al.) to look forward to until late April combined with knowing how winter usually affects me mentally (that is to say, not positively) really made it hard to see Christmas end this year. Just writing that makes me feel like I’m being childish, but it is what it is, I guess.
2. Speaking of Christmas, all of my family gatherings officially ended on Tuesday, when some family I wasn’t able to see during the holiday itself came to the city for a small Christmas get-together and a trip to the top of the Sears Tower. While I have been to the 99th floor of the Sears Tower before, I had never been to the Skydeck, so I was quite excited!
While the weather on Tuesday was fairly miserable from a temperature standpoint (it was -6 when I woke up), it was just about perfect from a visibility standpoint, which made for some awesome views from the 103rd floor.
I enjoyed going to the top of the Empire State Building when I visited New York in October, but I think I got more out of being at the top of the Sears Tower since I could actually identify things. I enjoyed putting on my wannabe Chicago Architecture Foundation volunteer hat and doing things like distinguishing between the Wrigley Building and the Tribune Tower, identifying various downtown buildings, and pointing out a few easily identifiable suburbs, like Evanston and Oak Park. I kinda-ish found all of my Chicago residences, and I particularly enjoyed marveling at the planes flying into Midway, which were easy to follow across the lake and to the airport from the south side of the building. I also noticed a few O’Hare-destined planes flying over us on their way east to loop out over Lake Michigan before coming in to land at O’Hare, but the Midway planes were much easier to see.
I even went out onto the Ledge! I wasn’t really nervous about it at all until it was time to actually step out onto the glass, which was certainly stomach-churning. It was a cool experience, though, and I’m glad I did it.
3. Well, here we are again. Another few years have passed, and, like clockwork, my snow boots have sprung a leak.
Fortunately, I haven’t needed to wear my boots in actively snowy conditions yet this winter, so it hasn’t been too much of a problem thus far. But I’m sure I’ll need to trudge through unshoveled snow at some point, and then, having leaky boots will be a problem. So now I need new snow boots again, and I’m super annoyed by it. I decided to spring for expensive snow boots the last time I needed a new pair (my current pair), figuring that spending more on a name brand would yield better durability results than my usual method of spending as little as possible on whatever I could find at DSW. And while my boots did, technically, last longer than before, they only lasted three winters instead of two winters, which is hardly worth mentioning, especially when you consider that it snowed all of like three times last winter and I barely wore my boots at all. Regardless, if I’m going to spend close to $100 on footwear that only sees the light of day during five months of the year at the MOST, and only sees a lot of activity for three of those months, I expect them to last longer than three years!! I don’t see why that’s so much to ask! The Nike Frees that I complained about springing a leak last month have seen WAY more activity than my snow boots during the same amount of time, and while, yes, they did both end up with tears, at least the tears in my Frees 1) took a LOT longer to develop from a usage standpoint (I wear those shoes multiple times per week, often during high intensity activity that involves a lot of foot movement [like dance]) and 2) don’t complete negate the entire purpose of the shoe to begin with. The tears of my Frees are a little bit unsightly, but at least they still do their job of protecting my feet when I work out or walk. The whole point of snow boots is to make it safer and more comfortable to walk in the snow. A tear may not impact the safety aspect, but it most CERTAINLY impacts the comfort aspect. I don’t feel like it’s so much to ask that they manage to do their seasonal job for a long time without breaking 😡
Give me your very best snow boot recommendations. I will spare no expense (well, maybe not no expense, but any expense that’s like $150 or less) on boots, but only if they will LAST. My current pair are Kamik Brooklyn2’s, which clearly were not worth however much I spent on them if they could only make it three years. I’m not going to for style points here (then again, am I ever?): I want something black and classic that I can wear for the next decade in Chicago winter conditions. Help.
Have you ever been to the Sears Tower?