If you haven’t gathered by now, being a Peanutter is not a typical full-time job, and one way it differs from most is our generous time off for the holidays. Despite going from the comfortable 70-degree shorts weather of L.A. to the negative temperatures of Wisconsin, Christmas season just doesn’t feel right amidst the palm trees and sunshine. I was more than ready for my white Christmas and two weeks of catching up with family and friends in the arctic tundra.
One of my first days of break, my friend Maggie and I met up with Elise and Dogger at Walker Brothers Pancake House in Illinois. This is one of my favorite restaurants of all time and when they asked how I knew about it, I told them it was my “cousin place” because we always used to meet my cousins there. Well, lo and behold, as we were paying our bills up front, I hear, “Maggie?!” and turn around to see my cousin Sam, who had also just finished eating. The craziest part was that Sam was just telling his friend about me because they saw Dogger’s Wienermobile parked outside. We all headed out to the Wien where Mags, Sam and his friend all got a ride and, of course, a Wiener Whistle. I rode in the way back thinking about how crazy it was that my best friend from college, my cousin and my two coworkers were all riding around in one giant hot dog. Ladies and gents, it’s a small, nutty world.
One of my favorite days over break was the one I spent with my mom in Chicago. We of course did the touristy stuff: visited Navy Pier, saw the huge Millenium Park Christmas Tree, walked through Christkindl Market and finished the day with popcorn of the Gods: Garrett’s. As I’ve said time and again, Chicago is my very favorite city, so any day spent there is a good one. But the best part of the day was being with my mom. It had been far too long since we had a day just the two of us, and even though we mostly just walked around and chatted – while stopping for frequent indoor breaks to warm up – it was a day I’ll never forget with my favorite person in my favorite city.
My Christmas Eve and Christmas were very similar to pretty much every other year of my life: we went to my dad’s side on Christmas Eve, drove around to look at Christmas lights after and then went to my mom’s side on Christmas Day. By saying it was similar though, I don’t mean to imply that it was boring. I’m a huge fan of traditions, probably because I like to think that no matter how much my life changes year to year, some things will always stay the same. The holidays are definitely good for that sense of comfort and familiarity, and I was especially grateful this year to enjoy my Christmas twice-baked potato while sitting in my grandma’s living room, just like I’ve done for as long as I can remember.
I, of course, spent a lot of time with friends too because many of them were home or off work for the holidays. The best night was when a bunch of my friends went to Chicago for New Years Eve. I’ve always wanted to spend New Years in the big city, and now that none of us are broke college students anymore, we got hotel rooms and tickets to a bar and did it big – my friend Hannah even flew in from Minne for the occasion. As per usual, we spent most of the night tearing up the dance floor and did not let the negative Chicago temperatures stop us from having a great time. There’s nothing like ringing in the New Year with a bunch of your very best friends, and the night ended with me smushed between two of them in bed laughing about the night we just had. Safe to say, 2018 is going to be a good one.
I did so much more over my short time at home (like meeting up with my old coworkers and attempting to watch all the Star Wars movies with my brother Tony) that I cannot possibly write about all of it. But what I can say is that my winter break got me really excited for the future. A lot of times I get sucked into the vortex of being a Peanutter, and it’s no secret that what I’m doing this year has been amazing. At times I’ve wondered “Have I peaked?”, “Will anything else ever compare?”, or “Can I ever be happy staying in just one place again?” After spending time with my friends over break and seeing what their lives are like – with their jobs, new friends they’ve made and all the time they get to spend together and with their families- I got excited to see what my own life will be like when it’s more stable again. I’m not sure if another job will ever quite match up to being a Peanutter, but I now know for sure that there are still good things to come!
Wishing you a nutty new year!