#89: The Elves of Christkindlmarket

November 21st, 2012

“Oh, Amy. I can’t go past there; I have alcohol.”

“Her name was Mousey.”

“That’s the medium size.”

It’s Christmas time in Chicago.

“I don’t have a drinking problem. You have a drinking problem. Your problem is you’re not drinking.”

“Oh, I envy you.”

“No, go ahead.”

And Christkindlmarket is up.

Every Christmas season, a German village sprouts in downtown’s Daley Plaza by the big Picasso from “The Blues Brothers” and the eternal flame where the pigeons crowd for warmth.

It’s an explosion of holiday cheer, from traditional German food to elegant glass ornaments crafted in the land of schnitzel and pine trees. Faux Teutonic chalet after faux Teutonic chalet of crafts, ornaments, imported candies, food, booze, knit hats and other potential holiday treats.

A Chicago cop walks by with a paper plate of potato pancakes, sour cream and applesauce. Businesspeople in fancy work suits sneak boozy drinks and check their breath before heading back up up up into their luxury skyscraping offices.

Bums panhandle, shoppers shop, kids get sugared up and insane and security guards in plastic ponchos stop people from taking their holiday liquor past the sign saying no no no don’t do that.

“Excuse me.”

“Pardon me.”

“Test one two. Test one two.”

It’s real, though. Put together by actual people instead of Christmas magic. I was there to meet one of them for this holiday 1,001 story, a friend of mine who had spent the last few weeks dealing with the shift schedules, safety harnesses, co-worker chatter and other dull realities of seasonal work.

We missed each other (although I still intend to interview her for a future story, so the less said now, the better), but that tedium created this magic, a fact I find fascinating. The Christmas elves need city permits.

“Just the potato pancakes.”

“The best in town.”

“One, please.”

Christkindl is marketing, the street musicians play carols and everyone gets another year closer to slipping and calling Marshall Field’s “Macy’s” when they go to see the windows.

It’s Christmas time in Chicago, with all us elves scurrying among the “Blues Brother” Picasso and holiday cheer.

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