A day of fun in the snow at Morton Arboretum's annual Yule Log Hunt
LOG ON Stretch your legs the day after Christmas with the Morton Arboretum’s
annual Yule Log Hunt.


Don’t-miss picks for Wed 12.22.10 through Tue 12.28.10: As an antidote to holiday excess, Chicago Guide slims down to five to-dos this week, freebies included.


sports/rec Yule Log Hunt
Part Easter egg hunt, part winter-solstice celebration—on Boxing Day, no less. Each year, the Morton Arboretum hosts a scavenge across the Arb’s 1,700 acres for a ceremonial six-foot Yule log, which is then hauled to a designated bonfire site and burned, representing the technical, if imperceptible to the naked eye, lengthening of the days that coincides with the winter solstice. It’s a light-hearted, semi-hearty trek across the grounds, perfect for working off the prior day’s second helping of stuffing. Followed by a mug of cocoa, of course.
GO: Dec 26 at 2. $8–$11. 4100 Rte 53, Lisle. mortonarb.org


concerts Immediate Sound Series
The Hideout: It’s where you go year-round for a cozy beer with friends, and this Wednesday is no different. (Heck, if you’ve got family in town for the holidays, take Dad along.) Players at this week’s installment of the ongoing free-jazz series include Jeb Bishop on trombone, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, Kent Kessler on bass, and other local lights playing the music of the experimental jazz saxophonist Albert Ayler. Also on the bill: Christmas carols. Because the first rule of the Hideout is: Never pigeonhole the Hideout.
GO: Dec 22 at 9:30. $8. Hideout, 1354 W Wabansia. hideoutchicago.com

ALSO THIS WEEK: The onetime Hideout regular Nora O’Connor returns to her old stomping grounds for a Dec 27 set with Robbie Fulks.


FREE !museums Paved in Gold? The Road to Maxwell Street
The second in a series of free exhibitions in the Spertus’s ground-floor lobby, Paved in Gold? looks at Chicago’s second wave of Jewish immigration, in the late 1870s, when the South Loop teemed with Yiddish bazaars, synagogues, and theatres. For comparison, or just for tacos, visit the present-day Maxwell Street Market, which runs from 7 to 3 every Sunday, including Dec 26.
GO: Sun–Thu 10–5. Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies, 610 S Michigan. spertus.edu


museums Home for the Holidays
Back on view at the Art Institute and parent-approved for family members of all ages (think of these displays as the White Christmas of museum exhibitions): the ever-popular Harding Arms and Armor Collection, featuring a knight and horse in full regalia, plus mind-bogglingly small yet period-appropriate seasonal bedeckings in the Thorne Miniature Rooms—presumably without miniature versions of the dust bunnies coating the Chicago Guide’s own holiday trimmings.
GO: Open Mon–Wed, Sat–Sun 10:30–5; Thu–Fri 10:30–8. Closed Dec 25, Jan 1. Free (kids under 14) to $18; free every Thu, including 12/23, from 5–8. 111 S Michigan. artinstitutechicago.org


FREE !sports/rec Chicago Park District Ice-skating
Don’t feel like battling the holiday crush for a spin on the ice at Millennium Park? Eight other rinks citywide offer alfresco skating with free admission; just rent a pair of skates, then glide to your heart’s content. And while there’s something urbane about practicing your twirls in proximity to the Bean, doing so in the shadow of, say, the U of C’s gothic architecture on the historic Midway Plaisance is oh-so classic Chicago. Not to mention less crowded.
GO: Midway Plaisance Park: Mon­–Thu noon–7, Fri noon–4:30 and 5–7, Sat 1–9, Sun noon–7 through Feb 27. $4 skate rental; food concessions available. E 59th and Woodlawn. More locations: chicagoparkdistrict.com


Up next in our series of plans from notable, in-the-know locals (a.k.a. people we like): Since Christmas week is such a high-traffic time for rampant movie watching, we asked Jean de St. Aubin, executive director of the Gene Siskel Film Center, what she’s up to this weekend—plus what she recommends at the Siskel.

“I’m covering all the bases this weekend. On Christmas Eve, my husband and I are staying overnight at my sister’s, who has four kids, so we can wake up and celebrate Christmas with little kids. At 2:30 that afternoon, we’re hosting a special bingo game at Lake View Nursing Home, where we call bingo every Monday. Then the day after Christmas, I’m hosting a prime rib dinner for family and friends.

“The Film Center is closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but on the day after Christmas, you can see the Millennium Trilogy, or for a new film from an emerging director, there’s Helena from the Wedding.”


Photograph: Courtesy of Morton Arboretum