When you have kids, this is the best time of the year. I've always loved the holidays, but I enjoy them so much more now that little Devin is around. I read one time that there are three phases in every man's life: When he believes in Santa Claus, when he doesn't believe in Santa Claus and when he is Santa Claus. I'm happy to be in that third phase of my life. Devin just turned 1 last year at Christmas, so Christmas morning wasn't that big of a deal. But this year, he's way into it and he can't wait for Santa to visit the Hester house.
Chicago over the holidays is really a magical place. It can get cold, I know, but on those crisp December nights when it's not too bad outside, I think Chicago can be a fun city to walk around. We bundled little Devin up a couple of times last year and walked down Michigan Avenue, and I know we'll do it again this year. He's already talking about seeing Christmas lights, and that walk down Michigan-and the entire downtown area-is very cool this time of year.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival parade is always very cool and it gets all the kids' hearts pounding. Little Devin is into Thomas the Train and this year we're going to take him to the Winter Wonderland train exhibit at the John Hancock Center. I know he's going to like that. The views from the observatory are awesome and Devin's never been up there. That should be a fun day.
But like I said, it can be chilly in Chicago over the holidays. We took Devin last year to Monkey Island just after he turned 1. He was probably a little too young last year, but we can't wait to take him back this year. Monkey Island, in Melrose Park, is a great place where kids can run, jump and play. They have inflatable everything and just all kinds of fun for kids to burn off some of that indoor energy. It looked fun even for me!
We're also going to go to Kiddie Kingdom again this year on a cold Saturday. Kiddie Kingdom in Niles is an overload of fun for kids. They've got cool arcade games and tons of food. I think I had more fun than Devin did last year! Santa is also visiting for lunch during December, and I know Devin's eyes are going light up when he sees him.
I can't wait for Christmas morning when I get to play Santa for real. We've already done some shopping for Devin, but there is more fun and toy shopping downtown to be had.
Enjoy the holidays everyone. Hopefully we'll be playing deep into January!
Devin Hester is a wide receiver for the Chicago Bears. He holds the NFL record for return touchdowns.
Devin Hester is a receiver for the Chicago Bears and father of Devin, 1.
See more of Devin's stories here.