Blinded By The Light...

Generally speaking, the holidays are a time of traditions. Year after year, we repeat a series of rituals that have personal, familial, or religious significance to us. As much time as this occupies, it can be hard to make space for new events in an already crowded field of commitments, but this year, there was one thing on my Chicago to-do list that I felt I needed to squeeze into my holiday agenda -- the Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

Each year, the zoo puts up a vast quantity of Christmas lights and opens its doors to the public after hours to display them. Admission is free (though parking is not), and patrons are treated to a glorious holiday illumination, along with the chance to glimpse the animals in a new way. Nocturnal animals come to life in the evening, and other animals snooze away in an adorable fashion. I had never been to see the Zoo Lights before, and I was determined to scratch it off my list in 2010.

Justin and I went together, and Mother Nature smiled upon us for our visit, bringing an end to a day of snow just in time for us to get an unobstructed view of the lights. The snow may have made for treacherous walking on the zoo's sidewalks (presumably they were not salted because the chemicals would be bad for the animals if they leached into the soil?), but it was still fun to stroll around in the brisk night air, taking in the festive lights with my sweetheart. Of course, it helped that I don't mind the cold; besides, it just gave us another excuse to hold hands.

The lights were far more impressive than the other display I've seen in Chicago, at the Botanic Gardens. There were far more lights at the zoo, and I appreciated the childlike explosion of color that characterized their style. In fact, there was something about the landscape that made me feel as if I were walking through a Dr. Seuss book, in the best possible way. I know this month is busy for all of us, but if you're in the city and you have a spare evening to indulge your inner child, I highly recommend making a trek out into the cold to catch the Zoo Lights while you still can.

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