There is something about the very act of getting dressed up, that makes you anticipate that something special is about to happen. You take more time getting ready, making sure that everything looks just right. You stand a little straighter. It makes you feel good about yourself. Too often we substitute comfort for something that can be bigger.
For the last few years I have sounded like a broken record to my poor suffering husband "I would really like to get the kids dressed up and take them out for a fancy dinner around Christmas." Unfortunately fancy dinners generally come with large price tags. Christmas is the time of year that extra money is not flowing freely like a mountain spring (o.k. it never really is). Still I held that dream close to my heart. In my mind I saw them sitting like proper young ladies and a dapper young gentleman. Each year there was no extra money for such a luxury.
I shared with you earlier this Christmas season that I was changing the way that my family celebrated Christmas. Gone would be the lavish over abundance of gifts, and in their place would be a few gifts and the gift of life experiences and memories. We took the family on a beautiful holiday adventure into the Adirondack Mountains a few days before Christmas. We rode the Polar Express, stayed at our beloved Great Escape Lodge, had a fairy-tale like holiday. In addition to that, I had managed to squirrel away some money for my fantasy fancy dinner. I felt quite smug as I imagined my perfect Christmas. What I had not anticipated in my delusions, was that fact that I would become really sick a week and a half before Christmas. The Christmas lead up was a bit of a blur as I made trips to the hospital to enable me to breath. We still took our trip to the Adirondacks, but I had to take naps and heavy duty antibiotics. The fancy dinner would have to be postponed.
This week I was able to make good on my self promise, even if a little belated. Excitedly I told the kids to go and find some nice clothes because we were going out for a fancy dinner. I was met with a lot of resistance from the youngest three children. "Why do I have to get dressed up..., THIS IS STUPID!" Calmly I told them that they were welcome to stay at home by themselves while the rest of us enjoyed our nice dinner. That put them into action. After the initial resistance they all really got into it. The girls excitedly ran around, looking for nice clothes. They paired it up with jewelry and perfume. Even Rowan, the one who most resisted getting out of his pj bottoms came downstairs looking very impressed with himself dressed in a nice sweater overtop of a dress shirt and clip on tie, completed with cologne. They all looked like a million dollars. As they left the house they were standing a little taller, their shoulders a little more squared. They had matching proud looks on their beautiful little faces. Resistance had left them to be replaced with excitement.
As we made our way down the highway, a tentative little voice floated up from the back row.
"Do we have to step outside of our comfort zone for this dinner?" Rowan's face matched his tentative voice. He was remembering our conversation from our Deerhurst dinner. His little face looked quite anxious. "Yes and No buddy. I do not want you to order chicken fingers or grilled cheese (in the back of my head I was pretty sure that Linguine's did not serve such fair even on their children's menu). BUT, you love spaghetti and meatballs. You love pasta." That seemed to satisfy him.
|Gracie enjoyed a very grown up Shirley Temple|
When we walked into the front doors of Linguine's, the kids all let out a gasp. "This is so pretty" Riley sighed. The lights were twinkling throughout the restaurant. You could feel the excitement rippling through them. Their little mouths were agape as we walked to our seats.
I was so proud of them as they sat like little grown-ups looking at their menus. They poured over the possibilities, reading each out loud. In the end they decided not to stray too far from their comfort zones... but that was o.k. Rowan decided on Al' Pomodoro, basically spaghetti and meatballs. Elly went with Cardimal, a lighter tomato sauce with basil and parmigiano cheese. Riley had Alfredo with alfredo noodles. Gracie pushed her boundaries a little more than the others. Gracie went with Capricciossa, tomato sauce with bacon, mushrooms, green onions, garlic, cream and parmigiano cheese. They were all delighted with their choices.
Riley exploded with hysterical laughter when our waiter brought out the pepper mill. It was as large as Elly, as you can see from the picture above. She was caught in the laughter, which in turn became contagious. It just really struck her funny bone. It was a comically large pepper mill.
I began with a caesar salad. Oh my goodness, Linguine's make the THE BEST CAESAR SALAD IN THE ENTIRE WORLD!!!! I say this as an informed caesar salad connoisseur. Too often when you have a caesar salad it is either too creamy, or too vinaigrettey. This salad is the beautiful blending of both, as though the two met and had the most glorious caesar salad baby!
I ordered the Pollo al' Limone. It was soooooo good. It was chicken breast sautéed in fresh lemon wine cream sauce. Oh my goodness it was so good. I ordered green beans and fried potatoes on the side. Oh my mouth is watering as I type this. It was so moist and delicious.
The kids were so well behaved, I was so proud of them. The big surprise of the evening came when Riley wanted to propose a toast. She wanted to toast to having such amazing parents, and to say thank you for bringing them to such a nice restaurant. I will not lie, I was both taken aback and teary eyed.
I left my favourite restaurant in the entire world feeling both physically full and emotionally full. It was everything I had hoped for. My kids had a fairy tale evening. They all appreciated it for what it really was. It was an amazing opportunity. It was something that if we are all very lucky will happen but once a year, making it all the more special.