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Rush: The tradition of a Geneva Christmas lives on

My mom had many wonderful qualities. She was kind, giving, positive and enthusiastic. However, she thought she also had the quality of finding the perfect gift for someone. She thought Christmas lists were not meant to be followed. Most often, the perfect gift was not so perfect. I could go on and on about the “interesting” gifts we received over the years from mom, but the Kane County Chronicle does not allow me that much space.

Many years ago, she decided to do her Christmas shopping in Geneva. Back then, the closest mall was west of Geneva, on Route 38 in St. Charles, appropriately called The St. Charles Mall. Clothes, shoes, toys – a one-stop shop for sure. If I recall, there even was gift wrapping around the holidays. As most malls do, it had the latest fads that any teenager would love. The point is it would have been so much easier to go into one giant building, where she was protected from the elements and knew she would get it right with the gifts (the ones we put on our list). But mom chose to stay a bit closer to home and shop Third and State that holiday season.

As many of you know, our shops in Geneva are unique – many of them sell one-of-a-kind items that you certainly wouldn’t find in a mall. In the ’80s, the shops may have had different names, but they still were unique.

My brother and I were at the age where we wanted to dress like everyone else and have the same things our friends had. Was the distinctive flair of Geneva shops going to deliver that Christmas?

The morning of Dec. 25 came, and we eagerly jumped out of bed to discover the many treasures under the tree. As my brother and I opened our presents, many a “I love it” and “It’s perfect” phrases rolled off our tongues. Where had she found all these cool gifts? One of my favorite sweaters was given to me that year. It was powder blue with my initials, LLL, monogrammed on it. I was sure my friends didn’t receive anything like this, and I couldn’t wait to wear it to school in a few weeks.

Did she vary from our lists? Of course. Were we happy with the results? Without a doubt.

As the years went on, shopping in Geneva for the holidays became the norm. We still got “interesting” gifts, but that became the exception. Besides, a surprise now and then keeps the holidays lively.

As my shopping draws to the end for 2012, I am pleased to remember the gifts I found all year in Geneva. Knowing the recipients may have something that is one of a kind is a pretty special feeling.

I still have my LLL sweater, and each time I take it out of my hope chest, I fondly think about our Geneva Christmas and am thankful my mom did not follow our lists. What she did 30 years ago, I still continue today – shop in Geneva, not only for the holidays but all year long. Haven’t given it a try? You should, because there is no time like the present to get presents in Geneva.

• • •

There’s still time to tell Santa your Christmas wishes. He will be at his Geneva home at South Third and James streets from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays and 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. He will return to the North Pole after Dec. 23 to prep for his busy day.

• • • 

It may not be a one horse open sleigh, but we do have one horse carriage rides through downtown Geneva each weekend through Dec. 23. Complimentary rides are offered from 1 to 4 p.m., starting by the Santa house on Third Street, weather permitting.

Happy holidays from the Geneva Chamber of Commerce.

• Laura Rush is communications manager for the Geneva Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at

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