As I mentioned yesterday the weather was not the best. It was cold and rainy when we left from the rural town of Elburn. It's the end of the commuter line that head directly west out of the city. It's about 50 miles and takes over an hour.
When we arrived at the train station we gathered in front of the lower level shops to devise a game plan. Walking to
I love the giant trumpets that hang over the sidewalk. Even the entrance to the subway is decorated. It was very wet and gloomy.
We arrived just before the store opened so that we could get a place in line for lunch under the tree in the famous Walnut Room. While we waited I ran around to several of the windows to take photos of the famous decorations. Unfortunately this was the first of many disappointments. I suppose at this point I need to explain a few things about Marshall Fields and the tradition of Christmas lunch under the tree. Many generations of women, including mothers, daughters and friends have made the trek into the city to spend the day shopping and enjoying the decorations and festive atmosphere of Chicago at Christmas. We all have wonderful memories of shopping at Field's. My mom and I shopped the fabric department in 1965 for the pink peau de soie for my prom dress. Generations of women chose their bridal gowns and registered for their good china at Field's.
When Macy's purchased Field's we all sensed that everything would change. I don't think that Macy's CEO understood the strong cultural ties that Chicagoans had with this iconic retailer and we were incensed when he made statements to the effect that we'd have to "get over it." That was fuel on the fire.
The high point of the visit to Field's was always peering in the wonderful Christmas display windows. They were magical spaces with animated figurines based on themes from stories such as Snow White. Click on the links to the previous years as well, to see the windows based on Harry Potter and The Night Before Christmas. Do you see how magical they were?
Now look at this.
These are the Chicago Macy's windows. They were tiny and nothing moved except the television screen behind the penguins. I tried to tell myself that in this economy everyone must cut back but this evening on TV I saw some type of advertisement about the fabulous and magical Christmas windows at Macy's in New York. Yeah, those Christmas windows. The ones we used to have. Go to You Tube and check out the New York windows 2008 and you'll see what I mean.
The store opened and we gathered the troops for our trip up to the Walnut Room on the 7th floor.
We rode the escalators and were happy to see that the old building looked pretty good for her age.
We were surprised that there was virtually no line. Usually there are literally hundreds of people waiting. Normally beepers are used to control the crowds. We couldn't decide whether it was because of the weather or the fact that we arrived early. Since most of us had skipped breakfast we chose to be seated and have an early lunch. We were ushered to front row seats under the tree.
We were NOT feeling the love and instead of drinking the Macy's Kool-Aid we decided to order Egg Nog Brandy Alexander's. Yep ...... at 10:15 a.m.!
My friends are looking over the menu, and yes, the tree is that big!
It's a good thing I had some brandy under my belt because the meal was the next big Macy's disappointment. The famous Chicken Pot Pie has been reduced to a ridiculous presentation that includes one skimpy ladle of obviously canned product topped with two cold triangles of puff pastry as dry as index cards. Another Brandy Alexander please.
Madeline was sitting under the tree.
The special Wish Fairy came around and granted us each a wish and sprinkled us with fairy dust. Can you guess what my wish was? I can't tell but it might have involved a very rich sugar daddy who wants to buy a large retail chain and return it to it's former glory. Maybe I'd wish for a rich cousin of that sugar daddy to reinstate Bon Marche also.
Thankfully the room is still very beautiful with it's dark wood paneling and classic details.
Nothing says Chicago like a tree covered with Vienna Beef hot dogs and deep dish pizza.
I've thought about this experience all day and what is most upsetting is that the changes have meant that we can't recreate the wonderful memories for our daughters and granddaughters that we shared with our mother's and grandmother's. Nothing is as permanent as change, but I'm struggling to find a way to create a memory as meaningful as those provided by the tradition of Christmas at Marshall Field's.
TOMORROW: We're going to walk over to Daley Plaza and visit the German Cristkindlemarket.