Citizens Report American Irish Culture

Danahey on the Loose at Christmas

Here’s my checklist of things I’ve been doing during the Christmas holly daze season, an aging fat guy’s attempts to get through a time of year when it gets dark before 4:30 p.m.

First, I have a tradition of eating as many Thanksgiving dinners as I can get invited to attend. I frequently repeat this feat between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

The most stops I have ever made for either of the holidays, to the best of my recollection, is six. One stop serves pizza on Dec. 24. With french fries on the side.

I refuse to rate or compare any of the turkey served, and I bring a beverage of some sort, including a wine called Cranchichi, lest I be mistaken for a mooch. Yes, Cranchichi is made with cranberries. No, it is not named after a Latin golfer or a Vegas stripper.

This year I only made four Thanksgiving Day stops, and I’m thinking about going vegan Dec. 25. It could happen.

The Doctor Who collection, scarf hand-knitted by Traci Clarke.

On the day after Thanksgiving, I and best fest buddy Tom typically head to Chicago TARDIS, the annual Doctor Who convention at the Westin in Lombard. On the day before Thanksgiving on several occasions I actually have helped set up the TARDIS, which fans of the show know is the old blue English police box through which the Doctor travels through time and space.

This year, and for the very first time, I wore an outfit to resemble one of the characters from the show, a dorky sort named Nardole. I even bought a burnt orange coat for the role.  Actually, the coat turned out to be free, as I had Sears points to use.

Tom, of course, wore a super-long scarf made to look just like one of the one’s Tom Baker wore when he played the Doctor.

Just reading this back, it must be pretty obvious why neither one of us seems to date much.

Anyway, there was an Irish story to hear at the convention this year. One of the actors who played the Doctor recalled working on an episode that involved shooting off explosives near the entrance of a Tube station – on what the crew had forgotten was the 60th anniversary of the Easter Uprising, he claimed.


Another tradition is to attend a holiday show of some sort. One year it was a Cherish the Ladies Celtic-tinged holiday concert in Elgin, at a venue where I missed the Klingon version of A Christmas Carol on another occasion.

I have caught the Goodman’s version of that Dickensian chestnut, all wrapped in bacon. Or something like that. It was quite tasty.

This season, Tom and I took in another visit from Celtic Thunder. This time the guys are on tour with a full orchestra. It all was very glossy, just like the holidays can be.

Celtic Thunder crowd

For a good part of the show the lads were dressed in black suits with white shirts and black ties, as if they were Mormons.

Christmas tunes were after intermission, but I am pretty sure Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” is not a holiday tune and actually is a pretty bleak number. Earlier on the bill came Randy Newman’s “Feels Like Home,” which sounds forlorn in Newman’s version and much shinier and happier in Thunder hands.

Having seen CT before at Christmastime, I was expecting to hear “Fairytale of New York,” that most Irish of seasonals, but they didn’t cover it this time. Maybe I’ll have to head to Dublin Dec. 23 to hear Bono and his buddies busk it for the tourists along Grafton Street. I’d put a bitcoin in his hat. Or a tulip bulb.

Being downtown Chicago for CT at the Chicago Theater allowed me to check a few other items off my list.

Before the show, I headed to Macy’s/Marshall Field’s on State Street and

Truffles, the bitcoin of cuisine, now available at Eately.

trudged up the escalators to the furniture floor to take a look down to the tree in the Walnut Room. The height of Chicago Christmas nostalgia, it reminded me of

The tree at Macy’s/Field’s

visits to the store as a kid with my (late) Mom, whose birthday was Dec. 10.

In her honor I should have charged some gifts past my limit. I was tempted to do that earlier in the day at Eately.  Who can pass up fresh Italian white truffles at $11.80 a gram? Can you trade truffles for bitcoins?

I also had made a stop at the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza for my annual injection of Gluehwein. You get a nice souvenir mug for your $7 purchase. Who knew glue and hwine could be so tasty?

Before the Celtic Thunder show and after the German fun, it was over to

The seasonally effective bar at Petterino’s.

Petterino’s to wait for Tom at the seasonally, spectacularly over-decorated bar.

I was sitting next to some attorneys who were chatting it up with some women much younger than themselves. One of the women switched drinks from Red Bull to red wine then some sort of cocktail. I hope she had Tums with her.

Since nobody I know has a Christmas party – or works at a place that does – Tom and I hit the Mother Truckin’ Beer Fest at Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates Dec. 9.

The gathering had no holiday theme, but plenty of people donning silly seasonal t-shirts, Santa hats or sweaters. Those types included Tom and me. He has a Santa beard now, and women seemed to like calling him Santa and telling them if they have been naughty or nice. I just hope he isn’t mistaken for Harvey Weinstein’s brother.

Two gingers head to a beer fest…
Santa Tom, not Harvey Weinstein’s brother.

This past week it was off to the old cinema in Carpentersville, to the same place where we saw the first Star Wars when it was released a long, long time ago, before there was VHS even.

I was going to Facebook live it, but Disney probably would have called out a special ops unit headed by a giant mouse with a light saber to lob off my mickey if I had attempted that.

The movie made me want to head back to Ireland as a good portion of it  is set on Skellig Michael. The very tiny, gorgeous island off the west coast plays the part of Luke Skywalker’s Jedi apartment.

I won’t spoil the movie for you, but to let you know it’s a rap musical and that I’m ready for the month to be over.

Still life with Vader and Santa shorts


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