January desk

New Year's desk, © 2014 Celia Her City
My January desk is gradually clearing.  At the beginning of the month, it’s always the same: strewn with unused holiday stamps, thank-yous to write, December’s to-do lists (half-finished), receipts from the holiday spending spree.  There’s a file of gift ideas for next year to be put away.

Eventually I tie up the loose ends, at least the ones that bug me, because by temperament I am a gradualist, and orderly.  Organization doesn’t come naturally to me, but I do love order once it’s achieved.  Besides, I’m too retrospective to shrug off all the unfulfilled possibility of the holidays just because some calendar tells me I should.

Instead, I carry a holiday hope forward with me: the hope of connecting, of building up my circle into one that’s warmer and more rewarding, that buzzes with shared secrets and sincerity.  It’s said that “kinwork” falls to women traditionally: that we make the mesh of society, by remembering the birthdays, calling the hibernating friend, lunching excessively, that sort of thing.  Maybe that’s why the holidays ultimately do invigorate me.

So, in January, the work of connecting is continuing.  In fact, the longer it bleeds over, the better it bodes for 2014.

2013 Zoo Lights souvenir

Cafe Brauer during the Zoo Lights, © 2013 Celia Her City
Welcome to Celia’s 2013 Zoo Lights souvenir!

A collection of night photographs
from a magical event
offering fresh views of our surroundings and one another.

Above, Café Brauer gleams amid festive lights and an icicle tree.

Mothers (Starry night, Chicago), © 2013 Celia Her CityMothers and their children begin an arduous night pilgrimage,
walking south toward the zoo from the conservatory.

2013 zoo lights souvenir, © 2013 Celia Her CityThe skyline, the zoo lights, even strangers’ faces, beam.

Chicago Zoo Lights scene, © 2013 Celia Her CityChicagoans relax together under a dreamlike canopy, on a night when the temperature is nearly 50.

portraitureRemember being with your father when you were ten?

Zoo lights crowd, © 2013 Celia Her CityEngage in silly or serious photography, please.

Father and daughters at the Zoo Lights (Chicago), © 2013 Celia Her CityA father attends to his daughter’s needs.

Light show, © 2013 Celia Her CityThe synchronized light show, though corny, is impressive, too.

Chicago Christmas skyline, © 2013 Celia Her CityCome away with a warm feeling for the beauty of Chicago.
Merry Christmas, everyone, and Happy 2014!

Click on images to enlarge.

Fourth Presbyterian

Fourth Presbyterian Church (before Christmas), © 2013 Celia Her CityAnd now for the sprint toward Christmas!

These days, like this rendering of the Fourth Presbyterian Church, are a bit of a blur.  There are crowds, there is slush, there are lists, there are trips to the post office, there are a few extra drinks.  We will forage our storage for cherished decorations; we will go to Gethsemane for the tree.  We will try valiantly to get our cards out in time.

Whatever we do, the Fourth Presbyterian Church has seen it all, sitting on the corner of Michigan and Delaware for well over a hundred years.  It has watched the crowds grow bigger, the buildings get higher, the Avenue change.  It has watched fashion trend and couples fight.  It has watched tourists pass from all over; families with excited children; homeless people begging.  It has seen decades of brides and grooms, old people gingerly climbing its steps, many funerals, too.

Meanwhile, we see it change, reflecting the day’s light, the blue hours, the sunrises, the lights of man that illuminate the city.  We see its ivy change with the season, growing more sinewy with winter, creeping every year closer to the roof, slowly greening and gladdening with all earth in spring.

We stand at the bus, clutching our bags, waiting; we look at the church, and it looks at us.

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