December 8, 2013

You did WHAT on Thanksgiving?

People feel very sorry for me.  You went out to dinner?  On Thanksgiving?!”  Blasphemy.  Don’t worry, this year I spent my favorite holiday without a large group of friends and family by choice.  We had many generous offers to attend traditional Thanksgivings around Chicago with friends, but since our only official Mid-West family in Madison moved away this year, we decided to have a stay-cation and do something different than ever before. 

Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving is always a favorite of mine:  no one feels like cooking, you had a short work-week, and people are happy.  We enjoyed Mexicali Mules at Revolution Brewery and relaxed as the busy bartenders blasted Outkast to a raucous crowd.  This was a lovely way to enjoy time together without the stress of traveling or prep-cooking Thanksgiving desserts. 

Thanksgiving morning, we got up early and headed downtown on the Blue Line for the annual Thanksgiving Day Parade in Chicago.  As cold as it was, we got a great spot and eventually made it up the front of the crowd to get a glimpse of the many local bands and (sometimes deflating) giant balloons.  Not having anywhere in particular to be, we were able to stay the entire time while enjoying a Starbucks Gingerbread latte (double, tall, soy, no-whip, ½ pump flavor of course).

There are many restaurants that host Thanksgiving for those of us who choose to go out.  We had a reservation at LM Bistro downtown and the restaurant was full!  I observed big tables full of friends, parents with children, international travelers, and couples.  We ordered the Thanksgiving menu with wine pairing and enjoyed celeriac soup, bean salad, traditional turkey with stuffing and kale, and a small pumpkin tart with vanilla ice cream.  It was one of the lightest-feeling, relaxing, and fun holiday dinners I have experienced.  The dark, romantic ambiance lent itself to having a lengthy dinner for hours without a thought of the time or anything else besides the food and company.  

Another nice thing about being on your own is that you can stop off for a nightcap or two.  I'm a sucker
for the dark, traditional bars downtown tucked away in the pit of huge hotels.  The elaborate decorations, fur-wielding patrons and tired servers create an atmosphere I am enamored with.  Thanksgiving dinner is finished well with a nice martini, sipped slowly and deliberately.  

If the holidays turn out to be different than you expect or you can’t celebrate them in the way you traditionally have, then I believe it is wise to make the best of what you have.  Enjoying a quiet Thanksgiving in Chicago was lovely and though we missed our family far away, we had a memorable time celebrating on our own.  And I still got turkey…..

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