Rockin' Around The Christmas Tree...

In large part, my holiday season this year has been about recapturing a sense of normalcy after the upheaval of being mid-move last year. I've been trying to revive all the traditions that I've established over the years, from decorating my home to hosting my cookie exchange, and I hope to make it to see the Zoo Lights at the Lincoln Park Zoo this year before they close for the season. In addition to my Cookie Bonanza, there is one other tradition that is essential enough to cram into my busy December schedule no matter what else is happening in my life -- visiting the Christkindlmarket with my best friend, Lisa.

As I've discussed in the past, we have been visiting Daley Plaza and taking our picture in front of the municipal Christmas tree there since 2006, and have never missed a year since. It was important to me to snap photo number seven with her this year, because, in a way, these photos are a record of how we have changed over the years. There are new glasses, new hair colors, changing styles, and the slowly emerging signs of the passage of time on our faces, but in spite of it all, we brave the cold to record this moment together in our lives every year.

The ritual has changed over the years -- in 2006, Lisa's ex-husband was on hand to take our first picture on a whim. The next couple years, we would try to get an obliging stranger to take our photo, which never delivered great results. Then we transitioned to using a portable tripod, which was a considerable improvement as long as we could find a decent spot to set it up, and now Justin tags along and uses his photography skills to capture the moment for us.

Sure, the Christkindlmarket may be overpriced and kind of kitschy, but it is our thing now, and I will gladly eat lukewarm bratwurst in the freezing cold if it means getting to spend some quality time with my best friend. I don't know what the future has in store for us, but I do know that as long as we are friends, we will always have our annual holiday photo op to look forward to...

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