Monday, March 18, 2019

32 Hours in Chicago

                                                                                    Photo credit: Teresa Eccles

This year my husband and I asked our three children which they would rather have for Christmas: stuff or memories. Without hesitation each of them responded that they would rather have memories, so we scheduled a very quick trip to Chicago for the whole family. Since the trip was planned within a month of Christmas we had to work within the constraints of everyone's job schedules. Both girls had to be back to work on the 26th and one of them had to work all day on the 23rd, leaving us a very short window.

Working within these boundaries, we took the red-eye to Chicago on the 23rd of December, spent the day of the 24th, then flew back home Christmas morning, for a fun-filled 32 hours in Chicago. What's the point of flying all the way to Chicago if you're not even spending two full days? I'm glad you asked.

For the past few years, my husband and I have tried to implement the philosophy of memories over stuff. For birthdays we have taken our children to plays, NBA games, concerts, and more. We want them to be able to look back over their lives and remember the fun and sometimes crazy times we have had. After all, who of us remembers what was in the packages we opened for our 15th birthday (or 12th or 20th?) However, our children will always have the story of "remember that time we flew to Chicago for Christmas and were there for like 30 hours?" 

What can a family do in 32 hours in Chicago - on Christmas Eve, no less, when everything closes early? Here are some of the things we did:
1) We ate chicken sandwiches on donuts at Do-Rite Donuts. We also bought a dozen to-go so we could have breakfast before flying out on Christmas morning.
2) We walked to, and then around, Navy Pier. After exploring outside, we went inside where they were having the Winter Wonderfest and the kids rode rides and took pictures by some of the beautifully decorated Christmas trees.
3) We walked to the Magnificent Mile and let the kids do some shopping for themselves.
4) After taking a break in the room, we Ubered to this incredible little Italian restaurant my husband and I discovered while in town last spring, Franco's Ristorante. Imagine our pleasure when the manager, Frankie, came out to greet the family and remembered my husband and me from months before!
5) Since we did a lot of walking, we were all tuckered out and went to bed fairly early. The next morning (Christmas morning) I woke up before everyone else and carried the stockings down to the front desk of the hotel we were staying in, The Aloft. The front-desk clerk was very accommodating in playing Santa's helper and delivering the filled stockings to our table after we had eaten our donuts.
6) On our way to the airport we had our Uber drivers pull over at Millennium Park so we could grab some family pictures by the Cloud Gate, otherwise known as The Bean.

So, did we do everything we wanted to do during our whirlwind stay? Not even close, but we did have a lot of fun and we made a lot of great memories.

When you get the chance to go, go. Always go. Make the memories that will last a lifetime.

Do you have a favorite childhood memory? Please share, as I would love to hear about it!

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