Over the years our family traditions have changed, and this year was no exception. Hectic work schedules caused us to want to simplify things, and yet this Christmas will hold some wonderful memories.
Coming from Washington, one tradition we refuse to give up is a real Christmas tree. The first Sunday after Thanksgiving, Mom, Dad and I pile into the car, head to Lowe's *cringe* and pick out our tree. Dad scrutinizes the trees while Mom and I shiver in the cold saying "It doesn't have to be perfect. Remember the book?". And he inevitably answers, "Yes, but let's just look at one more..." This year Dad left on a two week trip to Vietnam and Nepal right after Thanksgiving. Mom and I were a little unsure of ourselves, but we both considered it an adventure. We walked into the store and began our search. The first tree we picked up looked pretty good, the trunk and top were straight and there were no large gaps. It took about two minutes to figure that out, but that didn't seem long enough. What else should we be looking for? Dad always looks at the tree longer than this. Plus, we couldn't take the first tree we saw. We just couldn't. So we went and picked up a couple more trees, twirled them and put them back. Our hands were numb. The trees were wet and had soaked through the gloves we were wearing. There's nothing like cold hands to speed up the decision making. We deliberated and decided to go with the first one. It was a success.
Chicago has a favorite chocolatier. Her name is Fannie Mae. For the life of me, I have never understood why anyone would want to buy chocolate from someone named Fannie, but hey, this is the Midwest. They also think Wisconsin produces real cheese. But that's a side thought. A few years ago a See's Candies opened in Downer's Grove. We no longer had to rely on Grandpa and Grandma Sattler to send us a pound of Nuts and Chews at Christmas. We could go pick out our own! Our annual trip began with breakfast at Egg'lectic Café. We were sitting having a lovely meal when something dropped. We looked over and saw a bowl of hollandaise splattered on the floor about three feet away, trailing right up to our table. "It's all up your back!". People were starting to head towards Dad, napkins in hand to wipe up the splatter that had gone clear up to his hair. We couldn't stop laughing. Mostly because we kept thinking of Patti Eshagpoor and her infectious laugh, and wishing she were there to witness the fiasco. I was just relieved because I had almost sat in that seat. After our eventful breakfast we headed to pick out our chocolates. The hollandaise was forgotten as we picked our pound of chocolates. Dad was especially happy because See's has this rule. You can sample as many chocolates as you like, as long as you eat them in the store. The closer we get to the store, the more frequently he repeats "Now don't forget to eat your samples". This was definitely Christmas trip we will always remember. It is the year we coined the phrase 'Happy Hollandaise'. If you think it's funny, I came up with that one. If not, it can easily be passed off as one of Dad's jokes.