5 Must-Do Winter Activities In Chicago That Won't Give You Frost Bite

5 Must-Do Winter Activities In Chicago That Won't Give You Frost Bite

Christmas cheer is here.

The holidays in Chicago are the best time of the year. While some may be let down by the snow and freezing temperatures, it means the return of festive traditions! Chicago is home to plenty of unique holiday events, decorations and more. There's no reason to be bored this winter; here are 5 must-dos this season in the city:

1. Christkindlmarket

This is a popular one; it's a must for me every year which is why it's #1 on the list. They have something for everyone. You can even get some Christmas shopping out of the way. From food to homemade soaps, candles, and ornaments, they have it all. Oh, and you must remember the famous hot chocolate! Be sure to bundle up before venturing to the Christkindlmarket because it will not be enjoyable if you're not dressed for the weather...I know from past experience. Added bonus: if you don't feel like venturing into the downtown market, they have a Naperville location as well.

2. Ice Skating at Maggie Daley

It's fun, beautiful and cheap; a rarity downtown! You just have to pay for your skate rentals.

3. Winter Wonder Fest Navy Pier

Winter Wonderfest Navy Pier

Open until January 7th, this event has something for the whole family to enjoy. If you hate the cold, they even have indoor ice skating!

4. Morton Arboretum Holiday Lights

Take a stroll through the illuminated tree lights! Make sure you bundle up for this one-mile walking tour.

5. Decked Out Transportation

The holiday CTA train is back! The best pleasant surprise when you're waiting for the "L" on a cold day and you see the holiday train pull up. Grab some hot cocoa and it'll be just like the Polar Express. Except you're in Chicago, there's no jolly conductors and no northern lights, but take what you can get and make the most out of your holiday season!

Cover Image Credit: Erica Carbajal

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Putting Away Christmas

It sometimes feels like the end, but it's not.

It's probably the worst time of the year for those of us who love Christmastime. At least in the days immediately following December 25th, it's still socially acceptable to listen to your favorite Christmas carols, keep your Christmas lights plugged in, and enjoy your tree and decorations.

But, sometime after New Years, the day inevitably comes when the celebration of the Christmas season must give way to the next one. Whether you throw your tree out promptly on January 1st, wait for the official changing of the Christian liturgical season at Epiphany (January 6th), or just take everything down when you have time, there's a definite sadness that accompanies the un-decorating process.

First, there's the sheer amount of work involved in taking everything down and packing it away for next year. It takes time and effort to locate every tiny ornament hidden in the boughs of your Christmas tree, tenderly wrap each fragile figurine in a Nativity set, and untangle the many strands of lights that illuminated your yard all December. We spend hours putting everything away, not to mention vacuuming tree needles and glitter off of the rug.

Once everything is safely stored in the basement or garage, of course, it's guaranteed that we'll find one last decoration that we completely forgot about, meaning that we have to somehow make space for it in one of the already-overstuffed boxes of ornaments and tinsel and lights. It can all be pretty overwhelming.

Christmas teardown is also a reminder of just how much stuff we accumulate, and just how little of it we really need or care about. Now is probably a good time to get rid of some of it so that we'll have less to store, put up, and take down next year, but often in our mourning for the ending of the Christmas season, we find it difficult to part with almost anything. We make mental pacts with ourselves not to buy any more decorations next year, but then immediately break our resolutions when we see the cute little nutcracker ornaments on a great sale a week after Christmas, or when all the new decor begins to appear in stores the following October.

And of course, there's the essential fact that putting away Christmas decorations means the ending of one of the most beautiful, festive, and happy times of the entire year. The decorations in the stores and around town gradually disappear, the number of family gatherings and parties on our calendars begins to dwindle, school and work resume as vacations end. Everyone and everything just seems a bit less jolly as the bleak wintry weather of January sets in.

But even in the face of a long winter devoid of Christmas cheer, there's still hope. There's hope for exciting holidays ahead, like sweet, romantic Valentine's Day or joyous Easter Sunday. There's hope for changes in weather, like potential snowfall and the eventual coming of spring, when the earth will finally come back to life in flowers and birds and trees and EVERYTHING. And for those who celebrate the coming of Christ at Christmas, there's the promise that Immanuel, the presence of God With Us, doesn't go away even when we've put away our manger scenes and stopped listening to O Holy Night.

Before we know it, Christmas will be just around the corner once again, and we'll get to enjoy our favorite holiday traditions and celebrations sooner than we think. Even though lovers of Christmas will never not struggle when Christmastime comes to an end, we can take comfort in the fact that the cycle of the seasons continues, bringing so many other things to enjoy until Christmas comes again.

Cover Image Credit: Olivia Corso

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