Things I'm Thankful For:

Today as we were cleaning up after our annual gluttony, I joked with my parents about the hours, nay, days of preparation required for a meal that’s consumed in 20 minutes. Even as I scoffed I knew the preparation was simply representative of the thanks the holiday is meant to express.

Thanksgiving is more than turkey and sweet potatoes and green bean casserole and pies and stuffing and football and naps. It is a day to give thanks.

It may seem sad that we need to explicitly dedicate a day to be thankful, in the same way that Valentine’s Day seems like a commercially required way to say “I love you”. I prefer to look at these holidays as reminders that gently prod us out of our day-to-day routines and to pay attention.

In yesterday’s newsletter I mentioned that I was going to make a list of the things for which I’m thankful. Now, some are a bit too personal, even for me, but I’ll list a few. There are the obvious, like my teenage son who tries to act like he’s stereotypically angst-ridden but still calls me Mommy and says he loves me, albeit mumbled and under his breath. And my parents, with their warmth and love and really bad puns (I come by it naturally). And my brother, whose refusal to compromise is an inspiration. And of course my friends, with whom I share laughter and understanding and hours of conversation and entertainment.

But, The Local Tourist is about Chicago. So here is a brief list of some of my many thanks to the Windy City…

The skyline. Every time I drive back into the city I think “I live here!”

Lake Shore Drive. A body of water that stretches to the horizon, or steel mills depending on the direction of your gaze, the Hancock and the Tribune Tower and a canal with kayaks and Buckingham Fountain and a big ass Ferris Wheel and a golf course and mansions and a boat-shaped bar and beach volleyball…

The lakefront path, which runs the length of Lake Shore Drive. Put on some running or walking shoes, a pair of inline skates, peddle a bike, and you’re on vacation.

A free zoo that’s open 365 days a year and feels as comfortable and inviting as a zoo can reasonably feel.

An amazing music scene with tons of venues and thousands of musicians who really, truly, believe in their art.

People who will ask a guy holding a map where he wants to go.

Lyric Opera and Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Ravinia; Pritzker Pavilion.

The, literally, hundreds of theaters and thousands of actors in Chicago.

Grant Park, Blues Fest, Jazz Fest, Celtic Fest, Printer’s Row Book Fair, Air & Water Show, Latin Music Festival, Taste of Chicago…

Chicago-style pizza, Italian beef, “best restaurant in America” (congrats Alinea), hot dogs (no ketchup), brunches that automatically include shrimp cocktail, prime rib, and Alaskan King Crab Legs. FOOD!

Servers who will tell a tourist where the locals go to hear the blues.

The highest per capita number of bars in the country. Walk a block; find a bar.

Dali, Degas, Manet, Monet, Van Gogh. Largest gallery district outside of Manhattan. Art Art Art.

I could go on and on and on. I fell in love with this city the day I moved here. I’m thankful I made that choice.






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