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Home Again.... and Again

December has been a busy month of traveling. I'm in Chicagoland for the second time this month, and the second time this year. It's been nice! What follows is a play-by-play, because I'm only home once a year and I want to remember everyone I saw.

I flew in on the red eye on December 9th, arriving Dec 10th just in time for Jessica's graduation. We'd managed to (mostly) keep it a secret that I was coming. We'd been worried that Grandma would ruin the surprise, but to our surprise, she was the *only* one who didn't slip! Luckily, Jessica was preoccupied enough with finishing her undergraduate work that she didn't notice. The ceremony was very nice, even if Michigan was VERY cold. Brrrr.

That Sunday, after breakfast, I headed out of Michigan towards Ohio to visit Aarti. We had a delicious fondue dinner that night, and spent Monday eating, doing a little shopping, and going to a movie at the dollar theatre (Elizabethtown). On Tuesday, I said farewell to Columbus and drove back to Illinois. I stopped (too briefly) to visit with Shelley and see her library, and then it was on to Schaumburg for dinner with Meghan and Elenid... from my favorite Indian restaurant--yum!

On Wednesday, Dec. 13th I spent the day in Naperville. I first went to my old office and visited a bit with past coworkers. Then Alison, Alice, Daniela, Theresa and I had lunch at Lou Malnati's. After lunch, it was over to Wheaton to learn to make sticky buns with Grandma, then back to Naperville for dinner with Megan.

Thursday was Christmas shopping day. I met Theresa in the morning at Woodfield. We went to lunch, and then I went home and got Jessica to finish up in the afternoon. Thursday night I went out to Jamie and Craig's with Tammy, and the four of us and Michelle went for dinner.

Friday was a day of relaxation at home, which was very nice. Did some laundry and got some presents wrapped. Friday evening, the family went out for dinner at Wildfire (my favorite restaraunt!) downtown, and then to see A Christmas Carol at the Goodman. It was excellent!

On Saturday I drove down towards Kankakee to meet up with Sarah, Brad and Aarti, who drove up from Danville. We had lunch a little farther north than planned, due to an unexpected traffic jam on my way down. After lunch, I came back up, picked up Jessica and Hollis, and we met Jill for dinner at Rock Bottom in Chicago. We went back to her new townhouse and met Jackson, their new puppy. So cute!

Then Sunday, I flew home. Where the weather was a good 65 degrees warmer.

Fast forward a week, and I was on another Friday night red eye. I'd been so nervous about delays after hearing some horror stories that I ended up at my gate a full three hours early. Better too early than too late! I arrived back in Chicago early Christmas Eve morning, took a quick nap, and then got ready for Christmas Eve.

Grandma and Grandpa; Uncle Ed, Aunt Jodi, Erin and Emmie; and Uncle Phil and Judy all came. We had a delicious dinner where we ALL fit at the grown-up table. Hooray! Then it was Pass-the-Bags to The Night Before Christmas, Christmas carols around the tree, and dessert before the candlelight service at church. We came back and Mom, Grandma, Jess and I all got into our matching PJ's. Very cute. Maybe I'll post a picture. Hee.

This morning, Christmas, was wonderful as usual. Grandma and Grandpa stayed overnight, as is tradition, and we all opened presents and ate sticky buns and Christmas cookies. Then it was off to Aunt Nancy's for "dinner", and Grandma's for supper afterwards. We watched the Bears beat the Packers, ate Field's Specials, and made snowmen for dessert.

All in all, a wonderful Christmas!

Tomorrow, I think, is dinner with Meghan, Emily, Frank and Greg. The rest of the time will be spent with family. I have three more days to my vacation, and I'm afraid they'll go by much too quickly.

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