Written by my dear old friend, Megan, a brave soul with big ideas.
My first Christmas in Chicago was a lonely one. I left a community of friends and family in Appleton. I was missing the Chreetzmas holiday cheer that can only be found in the home of Emily Reetz and co. I was living in a 3 bedroom apartment which was occupied solely by me for the month of December. I had recently started a new job and was still getting to know my coworkers. It was just me and my kitten, Pantoufle to celebrate the season with. Despite my lonely state I was determined to make the season special. I decided I needed a Christmas tree to properly celebrate and noticed there was a lot selling trees a little over half a mile away from my apartment. Since I was new to city living and trying to forgo the habit of using a car for everything, I walked to the lot and carried that tree. I carried that tree by myself for 5 city blocks before noticing another Christmas tree lot just around the corner from my apartment. I said many a swear word under my breath and continued to carry that damn tree the last block and up 4 flights of stairs to my apartment. I decorated with the help of Pantoufle and proceeded to make a double batch of my Grandma’s cream cheese sugar cookies, drowning my sorrow in sugar.
That first Christmas in Chicago continued in much the same way it started except for a few fun surprises. One of my favorites to discover was Chicago’s CTA Santa train. I was taking the train home from work like every other day, staring blankly out the window when I saw a flash red and white fluff, colorful Christmas lights, and 2 tall pine trees go flying by the opposite track. I can remember feeling like I had seen a UFO. “What the #*@^ was that?!” I came into work the the next day to let my coworkers know what I saw and they just smiled telling me about Chicago’s Christmas train tradition. The train rotates lines and times all over the city in December – but there is just one magical train car. Three years later and this is still the only time I have caught a glimpse of the Santa train. It is almost as elusive as the real deal Santa Claus and his reindeer. I love it. I can only hope that someday I will walk out onto the train platform on my way to another unremarkable day at work and the Santa train will pull up, and I will get on.