Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Dinner

We didn't take a "real" camera to Christmas dinner so we relied on an iPhone, hence the low quality. Mental note: Get a new camera! I wanted to share the two pics we got in front of the Christmas tree.

Did I mention that we went out for lunch on Christmas? You know that I do not have the gift of hostessing if it involves cooking. I accepted that about myself a long time ago. I don't mind hostessing, as long as there are no preconceived ideas that the feast will have been made by my hands.

When we hosted Thanksgiving and Christmas at our house, we alternated between a Maggiono's take out meal and a HoneyBaked Ham meal. Maggiono's has the added perk of being picked up on Thanksgiving so that it's still hot and ready to be served when you get home. Plus there are plenty of leftovers to share.

We discovered Maggiono's Thanksgiving when we lived in the Seattle area. It was just the three of us out there so there was no extended family gathering. Maggiono's serves a traditional (turkey and stuffing) T-day meal, plus Italian entrees as well. When we were in Seattle, we enjoyed that elegant atmosphere complete with white tablecloths.  The cheery conversation of nearby patrons added to the festive atmosphere. That experience became a tradition for our family.

This year Danielle and Sam came from Wilmington. I made us late afternoon reservations at McCormick and Schmicks. The atmosphere was nice, but I have never seen a restaurant so completely full in my life. Not only were all of the reservations booked, there were people without reservations. The hostesses were very gracious and explained they were full to capacity and could not offer a table in the dining room, but they offered a table in the bar area. Before we were seated they were full even in the bar.

Our waiter was attentive and explained that the kitchen was behind and there would be a delay in getting the food out. In my mind, the delay was to be expected. There is no physical way (that I could see) to serve the entire restaurant at one time. Restaurant critics would likely discuss the necessity for staggered reservations to avoid the bottleneck. --I agree, that's a great tool. However, I completely understand why that did not work here. There were just so many people coming in at the same time. They may have arrived early for their reservation, but how can you tell them they have to wait to be seated when they can clearly see tables are available. The answer is, you can't. Some bottlenecks can't be prevented.

My feeling was  I chose to go to a restaurant on Christmas knowing that it would likely be crazy. I set my expectations accordingly.

There were many tables that seemed to be having a nice time. But, there were some that were less than gracious and took out their frustration on the wait staff. In fact, the couple that was seated right behind me was very frustrated with the time it took for their food to come out. When the food arrived I could hear the man complaining in a very aggressive demeanor.  I heard the manager respond very calmly and empathetically saying things like, "I am so sorry. I know it has been a long wait." And he said things like, "I will take this off the bill".  --Admittedly some of this was a little garbled, so I don't know how much he was taking off the bill. He may have been offering the couple to eat for free. I don't know. But the customer was not satisfied and continued to escalate.

At some point, the customer began to use profanity and the manager said, "Sir, I am very sorry that this has been a bad experience but it appears that I will not be able to make you happy. I'm not going to tolerate cursing. I'm going to ask that you get your things and leave. There will be no bill, but you can not stay." And, the manager took their food away.

I'm still trying to get my head around this. I absolutely think that the manager did the right thing. Once it was clear that the customer could not be appeased, it didn't make sense to allow the customer to continue to escalate and disrupt the other patrons' experience.

I don't understand why the customer was so angry. Didn't he see that there was an entire restaurant full of people also waiting on food? Why did he feel the need to be disrespectful to the person that was trying to help him.

Here's how I look at it, I am grateful to everyone that chose to work at that restaurant that day. I am grateful for the hostesses and the wait staff and the cooks and everyone else. They gave up their holiday and spent it working on what was the most stressful (and thankless) day of the year.

That scene embodies several other scenes that have entered my conciousness this holiday. I saw people heatedly arguing over parking spaces. I've seen people lose their patience in traffic. On television people were physically fighting over merchandise on Black Friday. I've heard others recount heartbreaking scenes of people being mean to one another while shopping for Christmas.

I don't have a real conclusion to this tirade observation so I will just end with a quote.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Remember that Christmas...?

Laid back is the feeling I was striving for this holiday.  You can guess by the Christmas decor that I was okay with going small this year.

The best part about my Christmas was seeing my daughter and her beau! They drove up from Wilmington, a good 2 hours (or longer) drive. I love that we were able to share in a celebration.  I also loved that they were both good with our small, understated holiday.

I'm trying to find  a balance between a small and understated celebration and festive one.

I realize now, I tried to juggle too many constituents which ultimately led to me having a misstep. Communication in my family is not really as clear as it should be. Usually, we can find the funny in it. Though, sometimes not.

Several years ago my sister was driving up from Florida to spend Christmas with my husband daughter and me. It was Christmas eve and she said she would arrive around 10:00. With a little person in the house, there were still errands that needed to be done on Christmas eve. ~But, if Sis got in around 10:00 there would be plenty of time to get it all done. She could get settled and rest and we could do our last minute shopping.

I didn't want to start the errands before Sis got there. I didn't want to risk her getting there and feeling abandoned because we weren't home. This was before cell phones, so she couldn't just call when she arrived. At around 11:30 or so I started to get concerned. The trip was a long one. So many things could have happened to cause a delay. You know, like an accident or a car breakdown or running late after dropping someone off. She had a couple of people that were riding up with her and she was dropping them off at their homes before getting to mine. At some point we went out for a few errands, but came back as quickly as possible. I left a note on the door that said I'll be right back. When we got back the note was still there with no sign of Sis having arrived.

As dinner time rolled around we finally decided to go ahead and eat and felt sure Sis would be okay with that. But, I was frankly getting pretty worried. You know, the first three hours or so of being late are not all that unreasonable. I mean, who really gets on the road when they think they will? But, by now she was 8 hours late.

I decided to settle in on my couch and begin to read my new novel by Patricia Cornwell. It was a Kay Scarpetta novel. I had somehow decided to start with the newest book, that was not the first book. Anyway, I didn't really know what to expect in the book. So, as I sat on the couch reading, hoping to be distracted from worry, I got to the part where Scarpetta arrives at the crime scene. It's a car on the side of the road on the highway, although the victims are not in the car, it is clear that something very bad had happened.

A car on the highway! I couldn't take it anymore. I called 911. I explained my sister was driving up from Florida and hadn't arrived. I described the car and described the route I believe she would have taken. I felt marginally better knowing that the highway patrol would be on the lookout.

Not terribly long after I made my call the doorbell rang with happy Sis at the door! I opened the door, filled with relief and dissipating panic. My first words were, "I have called the police". Sis was incredulous about my over-reaction. As she put it, "I'm only ten minutes late." !? It never occurred to me that she meant 10:00 at night! And it never occurred to her that I would think 10:00 in the morning.

Yeah, pretty clear we had a miscommunication. This was one of those "Aha" moments that crystalizes how different we are.  I love this story of us. We both still laugh about that.

I have to hope for forgiveness from Sissy (other sister) for a similar mishap this year.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

It's Beginning to Look Something Like Christmas

At our house it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas...Montgomery style. I got into the spirit right after I wrote the last post. We did not bring a Christmas tree with us when we moved but  I decided that I needed to take advantage of the holiday mood while the mood was fresh. I did not want to wait for a tree. I had mentioned that I wasn't even sure I wanted to get a tree.

I decorated our plant stand as a standin for a Christmas tree. Eclectic, I know. 

Take a peek at the lovely colorful ornaments. Love them!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Little Christmas Yoga Joy

My last yoga class of November was the night before Thanksgiving. It was awesome. One of my favorite teachers led the class, and the class was full. To avoid the potential of kicking our fellow yogis, there were no Flipping of Dogs or Rockstar poses. It was really a cool experience the night before our holiday. 

On Thanksgiving, Jordan and I drove down to spend the weekend with our daughter. I didn't go back to work until Tuesday. 

Now, as I post this, we have so little time before Christmas and I'm trying to decide how much effort to put into the Christmas Spirit. I love Christmas, truly I do. But, somehow I have not done one thing to make our home look "merry and bright". Oh, I take that back...I have framed a really cool picture of Santa.

Last year was our first Christmas in our new apartment, and we didn't stay in town for the holiday. Instead, we went to our daughter's place for her first Christmas in Wilmington. Because we were going to be out of town, I didn't decorate our house. I waited until we got to Danielle's to take in the cozy decor of the holiday.

Here it is the 5th and there are only 20 days left until the big day.

To get in the spirit (in more ways than one), I went to yoga last night. It was a "special" session not at my regular studio. You may have guessed from the top photo that we did yoga to the music of The Nutcracker.

I did not know what to expect. Our teacher was fun, wearing her pointe ballet shoes. She did a few downward dogs with them while on pointe which was pretty impressive. Our class began and ended with Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker Suite. It was a whimsical practice. I hadn't really spent time with just the music before. Flowing to the music I remembered why I love it. I actually love it more (now) without the visual of a ballet. Last night the music filled me and I didn't want to see someone else's interpretation.

It was a good practice, a full 90 minutes with a sweet Shavasana at the end. I'm proud of myself for actually going. It was not convienent...it didn't start until 7:00 which meant not getting home until after 9:00. I'd worked all day...was tired, etc. I could have easily decided not to go. But, I had signed up and I was curious.

I haven't had a week long break from yoga since February or March, and last night marked a week and a day. I wondered what it would be like to get back on my mat. I wondered if I had lost any poses.  It was a pleasant surprise that I moved into the poses easily and was able to go deeper than before my break. I wonder if that is a mental breakthrough or a physical one. I was happy with my practice. I was happy with the Christmas music. Now I'm seriously thinking about a tree. Or maybe a wreath.

Check out a few of my Christmas Pasts:

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Happy Almost Winter

I have so many random thoughts to share...but none are what I would call "blogworthy." My thoughts are random snippets that don't have any real cohesiveness. If I don't write the thoughts will continue to swirl, and so, I write.

The Holiday Season is HERE! How is it that I'm not prepared? I had a nice four day weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving and Daughter's birthday. Sissy's birthday was yesterday! LOVE! My cousin's birthday is on the 21st. All wonderful winter celebrations.
I think of the Christmas season as coinciding with winter. I love to enjoy a cozy fire and cup of tea when it's cold outside. Of course, I know that winter doesn't officially start until the 21st,  but if you are from a state with four seasons...you know what I mean.

This year Thanksgiving was spent traveling to Wilmington to see our girl. I took my box of Christmas cards to write...but didn't write them. The cards are super cute, though.

Getting back to work after the Thanksgiving travel makes it tougher to actually do the Christmas decorating thing. Although, that's really not a very good excuse. I really haven't figured out how I want to decorate.

A big reason I haven't really started to cozy up for winter is that our temperatures are really incredibly mild. The past weekend we had temperatures in the 70s. This was delightful for spending time walking around downtown. Look what this week's highs are.

Don't get me wrong, I am not wishing for ice or snow or even freezing temperatures. I'm actually quite happy with these mild ones. I'm just noticing that it's different. 

So, regardless of the weather...I'm preparing for the Happiest Winter!