A Home Alone holiday!

So as if Thanksgiving and Black Friday weren't great enough with my siblings home and all reunited under my parents' roof, we had yet another major Schwegfam tradition on Saturday of last weekend! Every year, my mom organizes some kind of fantastic holiday outing for us on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Last year we went to Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" at the Orpheum after a great dinner at J.D. Hoyt's; in 2013 it was Ike's brunch and "A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie. It always feels like the official kickoff to the Christmas season, and I love few things more than getting dressed up and going out downtown with my family, which makes it even more special in my eyes. 

This year I was pretty much shit-my-pants-excited because our outing was to one of my all-time favorite places: Orchestra Hall! Anyone who has read here more than briefly knows way too much about my obsession with the amazing Minnesota Orchestra...I've been a regular attendee since their lockout ended (even though I'm usually on the WAY younger end of the audience's spectrum!). Their program for the weekend? A particularly unique and amazing combination performance and screening of "Home Alone!" COULD NOT WAIT. 

My mom, Em and I started our day with manicures and a little more shopping at 50th and France. I loved the sparkly decor on all the trees and every street corner. 

We parted ways, and I went home and got all cleaned up for our family Christmas card photo, which we'd decided to take on my building's roof. I haven't written much about it yet, but I decided to cut off literally half my hair before my Boston trip a few weeks ago, and I'm still figuring out the six-inches-shorter thing. Of course, being a patented basic bitch, when I finished applying makeup and taming my hair, I took and shamelessly Snapchatted a selfie. And then saved it to my camera roll. Because days when I look this nice are few and far between, okay?! 


Gotta say, the Christmas card photos turned out pretty flipping cute...stay tuned for a full reveal as soon as my mom gets them mailed!

Photo-taking done, we drank a little wine in my apartment and headed over to Butcher and the Boar for an unbelievably fantastic dinner. I've loved that place since my original Minneapolis roomie, Kathryn, and I were among the first to dine there after they opened across the street from my old apartment! This was Em and Jon's first trip, and I think we all had a blast. I'm afraid we were probably "those" people having way too much fun, talking way too loudly, and taking way too many pictures.


I drank their perfect Classic Manhattan, while Jonathan and my dad split a few bourbon flights. I'm not a huge bourbon/whiskey person, but for a really well-done Manhattan, I'll cave, and Butcher and the Boar's is amazing. 

Cute sibling photos: 

A mama-daughter keeper (that I'm totally framing):

Our "titans of the gene pool" parents: 

And our insane dinner. If you go, get the Stuffed Jalapenos, the Texas Long Rib, and the Brussels Sprouts!! Although everything was fantastic. You can't go wrong there, I swear. 

Orchestra Hall got WAY into the spirit of "Home Alone," which was super fun for me...I'd never seen it decked out or quite so silly for any of my other events! The amazing team there had gone all out to replicate some of Kevin's booby traps from the film. From broken-glass lights and ornaments...

...to giant (and smaller) spiders "crawling" around...


...and my personal favorite, a treehouse complete with a flying "Kevin" that concertgoers could launch themselves! It was so creative and entertaining, and set the tone for an insanely magical evening. 

So here's how this all works: The movie is shown above the stage, with the orchestra below. It's the entire movie...just without the score in the background, and the conductor literally watches the movie on a tiny screen at the rostrum, conducting and cuing the orchestra as the movie calls for it. IT WAS SO FREAKING AMAZING. I directed and conducted a middle-school band program in South Bend for two years in college, so I can appreciate on a very basic level how technically challenging conducting is in general...and I cannot imagine the difficulty or precision that this would take. 

Fortunately, Sarah Hicks, the Pops conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra, is a goddess and my 100% girl crush, and she effing killed it. In five-inch heels, no less, legitimately almost dancing while she conducted. The woman is a freaking virtuoso. I was so stunned and so completely blown away from the moment they played the Twentieth Century Fox intro music that I actually started crying. It took orchestral performance to an entirely new place for me...such a cool, unexpected fusion of pop culture and a traditional art form I love and appreciate so much. 

My mom took some video, which is a true must-watch: 

Isn't it unbelievable?! So much talent and skill. The concert also included the amazing Minnesota Boychoir to sing the traditional chorale parts of the score, and concluded with a totally festive and perfect rendition of "We Wish You A Merry Christmas." Loved literally every minute of it. 

As if the night could have gotten better, or as if Orchestra Hall's team could have knocked it further out of the park, the entire audience left the theater to this: 

On first glance, I thought it was fake snow. Nope. It was feathers, as in this scene: 

PERFECT, I TELL YOU. Thanks for making my holiday season, Minnesota Orchestra. Sarah Hicks, you are my idol. And Kevin McCallister...keep the change, ya filthy animal.