I flew to Chicago and landed in a modest snowstorm. At O'Hare, I met my cousin (arriving from LA) and aunt & uncle (arriving from Dallas). We picked up a luxury sport utility vehicle and faced the highway. When we standstill traffic, we were lucky enough to be near an exit for a Chili's in Michigan's Most Romantic City for a very quality chain restaurant family meal.
The "holidays" were pretty decent and usual. I arrived in time to make it to the maybe now traditional breakfast with a bunch of people that I don't know on the maternal grandfather side of the family that was held at a sort of Greek restaurant. My dad's family joined us for xmas eve white elephant and BINGO-based gifting. Nuclear and momfamily stuff was on xmasday, happily more more laidback and less giftcentric than usual. Along the way we watched a few episodes of Intervention and burned a double batch of Chex mix.
Another day included a family day in downtown Kalamazoo, watching Sherlock Holmes, looking at salvaged architecture, hanging out in a cute cafe, and crawling the restuarants in the former pedestrian mall. I met up with the Table 15ers for a trek to Lansing to have our solstice festivities at Fred's house. Of course, Bibo made a horrifying appearance. We also spent a day in Grand Rapids, having lunch at some newish place, checking out some afterholiday sales, and dining at my uncle's.
The next morning I caught the train back to Chicago. (PROTIP: if you buy roundtrip Amtrak tickets and don't use the first leg due to your cousin having rented a car, they will cancel your return ticket too. And then you will have to pay $10 more for a 1-way ticket than you did for your original roundtrip). The train itself is great and fast and arrived exactly on time. When I booked my travel I had no reason to believe that anything would be on time; so I had about four hours in the city to be a tourist. I made a horrible mistake due to the proximity of Willis Tower to Union Station. The line outside looked short and I was intrigued by the scary new ledges at the SkyDeck. Little did I know that after each modest seeming line was set after set of additional lines with no reasonable exit strategy. It was a beautiful day and the views were spectacular, but they were definitely not worth the nearly three hours of waiting and the approxiately ten minutes to take them in before rushing to catch a train to the airport. Despite increased security due to the underbomber, I still made it to my flight without too much delay and thanks to some inherited drink coupons the flight was pretty pleasant.