Speaking of dinner ...
I love cooking a Thanksgiving spread. But for the first time, my husband, son and I met my mom, who lives near Cincinnati, for a holiday weekend in Chicago. We snagged a $34 round-trip fare for Mom on Megabus and settled into a two-bed, two-bath River North condo, where we can pad around in our jammies and watch football like we would at home in Iowa. (Except our house isn’t perched 20 floors above the Chicago River.)
On Thanksgiving Day, a bitter wind whips down State Street just in time for the start of the parade. No matter how many times we’ve watched this parade on TV, nothing prepares us for seeing a roughly 50-foot-tall pilgrimized Garfield balloon muscle its way between skyscrapers. Bundled-up crowds clap and wave at the multicultural mishmash: marching bands playing Lady Gaga tunes, dancers moving in Bollywood style, girls doing an Irish jig. I inhale the scent of evergreens laying in the raised beds along State Street, and as Santa wraps up the procession, I realize it’s time for an early dinner.
We walk three blocks to the Palmer House Hilton, where we have reservations at Lockwood (it books up a month in advance) for our first time eating out on this special day. Any worries about it feeling weird melt away when we walk into Chicago’s oldest hotel. Poinsettias, lit trees and waiters carrying trays of mimosas fill the lobby with warm hospitality, while chefs cook more than 120 turkeys and present lavish dessert buffets. Patrons linger over creamy butternut squash soup, turkey, dressing and sweet potato soufflé. All of it tastes better than anything I’ve made myself.