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Earlier tonight, while having dinner at Infields beneath Macy’s on State Street in Chicago, my brother-in-law’s girlfriend asked me about my family, and if there were any real “Chicago traditions” that we kept going. Honestly, my answer was “no.” As a whole, there really haven’t been any longstanding traditions rooted in Chicago for us, despite how much I talk up my love for the city here on The Rock Father. The reality is that when it comes to tradition, the ones we have are the ones that my wife and I have been establishing, and those are the ones that will matter most for our daughters. The big one, is our trip to visit Santa Claus… who we actually visit twice. The first time is always at Bass Pro Shops on Thanksgiving night, and the second (the really big event) is when we visit him in Santaland at Macy’s. Last night, our 2013 sit-down took place.

santa readyYou could say that I’m a bit of a “Santa snob,” in that I don’t want my kids exposed to some slouchy, wino-looking faker in a dime store suit and a shiny nylon beard – like the “Santa” that our local Park District tends to provide. I worry about the day when the little ones start questioning the difference in appearance, and with both Santa’s we visit, they’re distinctly different – yet both completely believable, and totally legit. I’d say that Santa is really a shapeshifter that changes his appearance ever-so-slightly to help keep kids guessing and maintain a low profile in the off season, but I think that might be hard for a four-year-old to grasp. So we just roll with it, and as the Macy’s slogan goes, BELIEVE. On the few times I went there as a kid, the State Street store (which was then Marshall Fields) was known as the place where the real Santa was. Everyone else was just “a helper” that would pass the information along to the big guy himself. Having seen Addie get starstruck a few times after meeting people she’s seen on TV, last night I witnessed the same thing with Santa in Chicago. She wouldn’t look him directly in the eyes, but she sat there talking to him with that aura of pure “magic” surrounding her. As for Little Finley, Santa played-up her Elmo obsession with a move straight out of A MIRACLE ON 34th STREET and spoke in Elmo’s voice. Yes, he really spoke in Elmo’s voice.

Much like Addie and Santa discussed CAILLOU last year, this year it was DOC McSTUFFINS. There’s only two things that Addie wants for Christmas, and after telling him about the Mooshka Doll she’d like, as soon as she mentioned “a check-up center,” Santa was all about the Doc.

While this was Addie’s fifth year of visiting Mr. Claus, it was only Finley’s second, and she didn’t disappoint in doing exactly what Addie did on her second visit. I present to you the official 2013 photo:


And for historical purposes, here’s the pic from last year:


After our sit-down, we headed up to the 7th floor to drop Santa a reminder letter as a part of our tradition. Actually, it was one year ago this month that Addie was featured on the Macy’s Facebook Page in a picture that I took of her mailing last year’s letter. 22,719 “likes” and nearly 700 “shares” later, I think it’s safe to call that photo a “viral hit.” And for this year? Both girls were able to drop their letters in the box…


Like ICE CUBE said back in 1993, “It Was a Good Day.”

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