Doing Things With ODS

I ended up doing things with the youth from the shelter for two days in a row. Yesterday, we went to Christkindlemarket together, and today we went to the Steppenwolf Theater to see the world premiere of the play The Bald Sisters.

Yesterday was great! It was probably the same thing as with skating, which is that people didn’t quite figure yet that Christmas is already here. There were almost no lines for food and drinks, and you could get close to all the booths and see everything very clearly.

It was 55F outside, and it could not be a better time to wonder around. We drank hot chocolate, and gazed at all pretty ornaments,

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The Start Of The Christmas Season

On Saturday and Sunday, Boris and I removed all the fall decorations and took all my Christmas accessories out of storage. And since they were already out, I could not wait to start decorating :).
As usual, I found that some lights that worked perfectly fine last year stopped working, and I had to replace them. Fortunately, since it is the very beginning of the holiday season, it was easy to order everything I needed and get the same-day shipping

Our house is all illuminated

On Tuesday, I wnt skating for the first time this season. I think that most people didn’t quite figure out that it’s a Cristmas season already, and there were not that many people skating. And it was perfect!

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The Last Minutes Of Chicago Christmas Tree

One of the perks in my new company is having one Friday of the month off in addition to the regular PTO. They are called Wellness Fridays. One of these Wellness Friday was this week, and I went skating at Millennium Park. The regular entrance was closed, and that’s what I saw:

Christmas Tree Removal

I have always cut and chopped my Christmas trees and burned them in my fireplace for the past several years, so I didn’t need to think about their disposal. But I also knew that there was a certain day when I could leave a tree by the garbage containers, and the village would pick it up.

With this in mind, I didn’t think it would be a big deal to get rid of a Christmas tree while living in Chicago – I heard that there were a lot of free programs available. But when I checked on the first week of January, it turned out that you have to drop your tree off at designated sites. I couldn’t do it without a car, and no Uber would drive a tree for me. I looked and looked, and nobody was offering this service. A couple of websites indicated that they are sold out. Finally, I found one service called Tree Santa and signed for a tree pickup on January 10.
The night before, I stripped the tree of all decorations, and Igor and I carried it down and put it in the corner of our courtyard.

They were supposed to text me the day before about a more precise pickup time, so when there was nothing, I messaged them, and they replied that they had too many requests and staff shortage, and they extended pickups till January 21, and can they move me to the EOW. I told them I could only wait till Wednesday, and they promised to reschedule.

The new pickup time was set to 2:30 PM on January 12. At 3:15 I messaged them and asked what’s the ETA :). They said that they are struggling (which I completely understand!) and that they will update me. At 5:15 (since they are supposedly working till 5 PM only) I messaged that it’s OK, I understand, but tomorrow is absolutely the last day. They messaged back: are you sure the tree is still there? I replied – yes, because I would need to unlock the gate for somebody to pick up the tree!

Then, at 6:30, I went skating because I didn’t want to miss this opportunity again. And guess what – when I was skating, somebody called me: can you open the gate? Well, it was almost 8 PM, and I was 50 minutes away from my house!

I started to text my neighbors, nobody responded right away, but in 2 min the tree person called me and said that somebody had let him in. Well, it ended up being my neighbor :). ‘
All well that ends well, but that’s a very typical story of this COVD winter!

Lots Of Presents

What else about Christmas? There was a lot of cooking and a lot of washing dishes, as I already mentioned. And there were presents. 

Nadia spent a lot of time coloring the wooden ornaments, and then she packed them for different people. It was great to see that she already understands the joy of giving.


I was very happy with the presents I picked for my granddaughters. I got insider information from Anna that Nadia thinks that Baba will give her ice skates for Christmas. I was happy to follow up :).

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Christmas In Milwaukee

“On Christmas Eve in the morning” I tried to get out of the house quickly and prepared the breakfast tray the night before. And guess what – the sideboard broke, and my breakfast ended up on the floor, the fruits, and milk,,and everything mixed!
Boarding the Hiawatha Train
It was not on purpose!
Kitchen assignment: all Russian traditional salads
I love this picture, but the background situation was a non-working dishwasher, which created extra work with eleven people in the house to be very problematic, even with the single-use plates!
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Last Days Before Christmas

On Wednesday, I took a half-day off, having plans to do my haircut in Palatine, visit my former neighbor, and meet with my other Palatine friend with whom we did the forest preserve volunteering.

First, my hairstylist texted me that she tested positive for COVID. I know that it can happen with anybody, but I felt that this was unfair to her because she was vaccinated and boosters, and she was always so careful! She got it light, thanks to the vaccine, but obviously, we had to cancel my appointment.

I thought – OK, I will have more time with my friends, and we even made an ambitious plan to go to the forest preserve, but you won’t believe it! The car got stuck on the tracks just to stations from Palatine, and we spent almost an hour not moving!

We still had a good conversation, but it felt very unfair once again!

On the bright side – I texted my hairstylist that I would mail her the cookies I would have given her in person. I had no expectations regarding their arrival time, but miraculously, the priority mail was delivered the next day, as if it was not the Christmas season.

I finished packing, helped mom assemble goody bags for all adults with whom we would celebrate Christmas. I also gave my neighbors cookies, did a couple of other last-minute things, and ended up going to bed after midnight for several days straight again.

Then’ we had very busy but beautiful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Anna’s family, and now I am back, and I’ve been smiling non-stop for the past two days!

my neighborhood just before Christmas