Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Annual Christmas Lunch

For about twenty-three years now, my sweetie has taken me to lunch just before Christmas.  It's a tradition we love and is almost always very special.

Googly eyes  The very first time we went out, was actually our second lunch together.  I didn't call it a "date" because I was friends with a lot of guys at work and we often went to lunch, almost always Dutch treat, too.  But Frank invited me out to lunch on a very snowy day and I figured I ought to wear my boots.  Moon boots.  Big, Ugly, Clunky, Boots.  I was sure we were going to a diner or maybe even a fast food joint for pizza or a burger.  No, he takes me to a real swank place called Chestnuts, where everything on the menu was so expensive it made your eyes go BOING!

Moon boots So there I was, Little Miss Unsophisiticated with her moon boots, and knitted hat and turtleneck (hey, I was cold!), and all around me are these svelt, model-like women in sleeveless dresses cut down to the navel and dripping with jewelry, sipping sherry or chardonnay, and there I was with a whiskey pop (a highball).  But it was a lovely lunch and when he dropped me back off at the office, he handed me a gift.  (A GIFT!!!!!  Handmade stationery.)  I was so surprised, I gave him a kiss on the cheek, which I think startled and surprised him, too.

Chandelier For years we went to a lovely little restaurant in the basement of and old office building, that had the most gorgeously decorated rooms for dining (black lacquered tables, plenty of mirrors, and lots of sparkling chandeliers), a sumptuous bar, and exquisite Christmas decorations.  We'd have a couple of drinks (Manhattan for him, martini for me) and always ended lunch with their famous white mousse.  But then they lost their lease and moved to another historic building, and totally changed their decor to all white, no window treatments (there had been no windows in their previous location, which tended to make the place feel more intimate), and no charisma.  They were out of business within six months.

After that, we often had lunch in lovely Tastings, the test-kitchen restaurant owned by the Wegmans grocery chain.  But Tastings has now closed--and they've reopened as Next Door Bar and Grill and they don't (yet) serve lunches. (Bummer.)

So this year we ended up in Keanan's--a very nice casual-style restaurant, which is always nicely decorated, and has a wonderful staff.  We had a lovely lunch...but it just wasn't the same.  We've eaten there on many occasions--not always happy (like the day my Dad died), and have always had a nice lunch.  (One of the waitresses even knows what we drink--even though we might only go there six times a year.)

I'm hoping by next year we find some other wonderful little restaurant that will make the Christmas lunch as special as it once was.  Of course the one thing that has always been the same is my lunch companion--and through the years I couldn't have done any better.

Do you have a tradition like this?