Memories are important. They keep us connected to the ones we love. They bring generations together. It is important to build memories and then reminisce to keep them alive.
Today was a day for memories. Two years ago, I gave my mom a Christmas gift – or a promise for one. I wanted to take her to the Walnut Room, the restaurant in Macy’s department store on State Street in Chicago. We were not able to find a date that worked, so we put it off to last year. However, last year, she had knee surgery and wasn’t up to walking that much. Finally, today I was able to keep my promise.
When I was a child, my mom and aunts would go downtown to Marshall Field’s to shop for Christmas presents. (In 2005, Marshall Field’s was bought out by Macy’s). My cousins, siblings and I were not allowed to go, since our mothers might be buying gifts for us. We remember hearing about the famous Walnut Room Restaurant, but not seeing it.
As we became adults, some of us had the opportunity to visit the Walnut Room. It wasn’t until 2010, that I sat under the forty-five foot Christmas tree and ate the delicious food.
That year, two of my daughters were out of the area – one was studying in Washington, D.C. for the semester, one was working as a nanny in Germany. They were both coming home for Christmas and both flying in on December 15. Another one of my daughters came with me to pick them up – we first went to Midway Airport and then to O’Hare.
As a treat, I decided we would go downtown Chicago. For years, I had heard about the Walnut Room, but had never eaten there. This would be a great time to go, since I could bring my girls.
We had a late dinner, but a delicious one. My daughter that came from Germany was battling jetlag and trying to stay awake, but enjoyed it anyway. We all did. From the food, to the tree, to the Snow Princess Fairy that promised to grant our wishes.
Going to the Walnut Room has become a tradition for our family since that year. In 2013, all of my children (and in-laws) were able to come together under the tree. We feasted on holiday fare and sampled the special holiday drinks. We were given commemorative mugs as souvenirs.
Today, the memory came full circle. The holiday tradition my mother celebrated with her sisters-in-law and that I celebrate with my daughters, was celebrated today. My sister joined my mother and I in bringing back this tradition. Next year, I hope the rest of our siblings can join us.
It has been years since my mother had been to the Walnut Room, but I’m sure she enjoyed it as much as she ever did – maybe more. We ate lunch under the tree, got sprinkled with fairy dust and looked at the Christmas windows. We did a little shopping and bought Frango mints.
Here are some tips for visiting the Walnut Room: During the holiday season, they do not take reservations. When you arrive, go to the welcome desk and pick up a pager. The desk-person can tell you approximately how long the wait will be. At this time of the year, there was no wait, but close to Christmas the wait can be as long as four or five hours.
We went to the Walnut Room on December 23 last year. When we arrived at 10:30, we were told the wait was going to be five hours. We picked up a pager, but asked if we could come back at seven o’clock instead and they accommodated us.
While at the restaurant, a fairy princess will visit your table. If you want, she will grant wishes and sprinkle fairy dust on you. The Snow Princess Jade Nicole has written a couple of books about being a fairy princess. If she is on duty when you are there and you ask nicely, she will sign them for you.
A few of the dishes are classics that have been on the menu for decades – two of which are the Chicken Pot Pie, which my sister enjoyed, and the Field’s Special wedge salad. My mother had the Mandarin Chicken Salad and I had Chicken Salad on a Whole-Grain Croissant. Both of these more contemporary dishes were also delicious.
When you visit, be sure to check out the Christmas windows on the State Street side of the building – this year everything is new and “out of this world!”
Visit Macy’s and the Walnut Room – make memories!
(I wish I was getting paid for this advertisement, but I am not – this is only my opinion). For more information see Visit Macy’s.
Still on my bucket list! I have been to Eatily and LOVED it
Yes, Eataly is amazing. But the Walnut Room is a must!
I’m ashamed to say I live just west of Chicago and can’t tell you the last time I was downtown. I never had dinner in the Walnut Room. I remember as as child we would go see Uncle Mistletoe and Aunt Holly. I’m not much of a shopper but guess I could sightsee. Haven’t seen the bean either. I did go to Navy Pier with the seniors a couple years ago.
Have a Very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
You really should go sometime! I don’t usually do much shopping – mostly window shopping. I have the same budget downtown as I do anywhere else, so no high-end stuff for me. We haven’t been going for long, but it has become a tradition.