CHICAGO (WLS) -- Whether it was for a traditional Thanksgiving meal at home, or dinner in a restaurant, this holiday marked the return of loved-ones traveling far and wide to be together.
Many families say they'll never take that for granted again.
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One of those families is the McGraths from Lake Zurich.
The McGrath girls hugged grandma for the first time in two long years.
The Patels, from South Barrington, also reunited with their grandparents from India, making this Thanksgiving together so much better than on a device.
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"It's awesome," said Krish Patel. "No more FaceTimes, Zoom, over the phone and all that. It's like face-to-face. It's so much better that way."
They are among the other families who spent part of their holiday in the Loop at Christkindlmarket.
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In each sip of hot spiced wine was a taste of normalcy.
"It feels like the holiday season to me," said Aniyah Dupree. "It's amazing that people are back and can interact with each other the way things were before."
All of it possible because of the COVID vaccine. Chicago reached its goal this week of 77% of residents 12 and older receiving at least one dose.
Another sense of normalcy this year is being able to dine out again for those who chose not to cook a Thanksgiving feast.
"It was such a crazy adventure last year. We had about 400 take-outs last year, meaning you would have seen that room was with bags everywhere," said Lulu Noguier, the owner of Bistronomic. "Now, we can really celebrate Thanksgiving because it's about being together."
Thanksgiving 2021 brings sense of normalcy back as people gather for in-person celebrations
Chicago reached COVID vaccine goal of 77% of residents 12 and older with at least one dose