Every year, a good friend of mine always plans a Secret Santa party. We do it so a bunch of us can exchange gifts with our kids without breaking the bank by buying gifts for everyone. So we do a yummy pot luck, and I always make the cake.
This year, I made a christmas tree cake, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. Here's a couple pictures.
The weekend before Thanksgiving was the Lights Festival on Michigan Avenue. We have been meaning to go every year for the past ten years or so, and we never remember in time. This year, we finally remembered just in time.
So we packed up the kids and took the train to Michigan Avenue...and if we ever do this again, we'll do it very differently. The crush of people was so insane that we couldn't really move. And, we were at the beginning of the parade, so it was pretty boring - lots of downtime between the floats. We were carrying the kids, partly because they couldn't see unless we picked them up, and partly because there we so many people I didn't want them to get stepped on. And, let me tell you, holding a child high enough so he can see over the heads of all the adults - for an hour - is exhausting.
Parts of the crowd were funny and interesting, and parts weren't. There was a group of college students behind us, and one of them would complain every time I lifted my son up so he could see the float. I mean, seriously? She's complaining that a four year old child can see and she can't? He's a child. I think she'd like it less if he started crying because he couldn't see.
Anyway, we after the parade was over, we picked up something to eat, and then slowly made our way to the subway station. It was still incredibly crowded, and there were CTA officials regulating the number of people allowed on the train platform, but the kids were doing fine so we all waited patiently. When it was our turn to head down to the platform, we were rewarded with an amazing surprise: The Holiday Train!
Every year, the CTA takes one train and decorates it like crazy with lights, tinsel, decals, window decorations, you name it. They go all out, and you can see the lights and Happy Holidays signs for blocks. There is even a flatbed car with Santa and his sleigh, and he waves to all the passengers waiting on the platform. But this is the only train decorated like this, in all the trains running on all the lines. And we were lucky enough for it to pull into our station.
It was amazingly crowded, but the conductor was patient and we managed to find a train car that wasn't packed to the gills, so we squeezed on. The kids were staring around with wide eyes and grins on their faces. It was very cute.
We got off at our stop, and DH got out his camera for some pictures. Most of which came out really well. We waited on the platform so the kids could wave to Santa, and then we headed home.