Monday, November 19, 2012


The strangest thing happened to me this weekend. We had been to see the new movie Lincoln, and by the time it let out, it was suppertime. When hubby asked me what I was in the mood for, I told him, "Well, you're not gonna believe this, but I suddenly have an overwhelming urge to eat at Luby's cafeteria." I was right, he didn't believe me, but after a moment's hesitation, he finally said, "Whatever floats your boat, Dear." To tell you the truth, I didn't have a clue why I suddenly wanted to go there, since it's usually at the bottom of my list, right down there next to Golden Corral and Chinese buffets. It got me to thinkin', and I finally realized that it must be a Christmas thing, brought on by our recent stroll through that lovely mall in Houston, with its spinning skaters, lilting carols and all those twinkle lights. What has that got to do with Luby's, you ask? Well, every year for about forty years, a few weeks before Christmas, my dad would load all four of his kiddos into the station wagon as soon as he got home from work, and he'd take us to one of the malls in Dallas. First he'd treat us to dinner at Luby's or El Chicos, then we'd "help" him select his Christmas gifts for Mom. In the early years, I'm sure we were more hindrance that help. In the latter, it was the other way around. Still, it was more about our once-a-year outing together than it was about the actual food or shopping.

I'm sure a lot of you get holiday urges based on food, but they are most likely triggered by memories of your female relatives gathering in the kitchen to make traditional treats from The Old Country. My female forebears weren't all that crazy about cooking, and had been in Texas for so many generations, they couldn't remember which country was the old one, so I guess that's why my holiday urges are usually triggered by restaurants.

One year when my kids were very small, we went to Dallas for Christmas. Hubby and I left the kids with my folks one morning, and ran out to grab a few last minute stocking stuffers. We ended up having lunch at Long John Silvers, where we were given some holiday glassware with our purchase. I remember being so giddy over those free glasses, and feeling so footloose and fancy free, having that wee bit of time alone with my hubby. Which is why every year, right before Christmas, though I haven't step foot in one all year long, I suddenly feel the need to take my hubby to Long John's. I think I keep hoping for more free glasses, but they never do that anymore.

When my kids were tweens, we actually moved back to the Dallas area. There was a La Madeleine's restaurant nearby, so one day during the holidays I took Alexis there for a mother-daughter outing. She loved everything about it, especially the bakery shelves filled with yummy things like creme brule and strawberry tarts. Because it was near Christmas, they also had shelves filled with special holiday treats like gingerbread houses and things to give as gifts. She was in heaven, and a new tradition was born.  Oh, how I missed those annual lunch dates, when she moved halfway across the country.

With my son it's more of a winter urge than a holiday one. Whenever it snowed in Dallas, they always shut down the schools. They felt we Texans couldn't be trusted on icy roads, and they were probably right, but that didn't stop us. One year, after about an hour of trying to scrape up enough snow to build a pitiful little snowman, Austin had had enough, so he begged me to take him to the bookstore. After we had made our purchases, we moseyed over to the coffee shop there in the store, bought ourselves some hot chocolate, and sat up on barstools at those window tables, sipping cocoa and reading our new books. After a few minutes Austin turned to me and said, "I declare this to be our new family tradition! From now on, whenever it snows, you have to bring me to a bookstore so we can do this."

Over the past several years, I usually found myself at both La Madeleine and the bookstore during the holidays, but it was never quite the same without my kiddos. But...know what I just realized? For the first time in eight or ten years, both my kids are living less than an hour away. I think it's time to give them each a call, and make a date for the holidays, don't you?

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