2. Feast | What was the best meal you had in 2013? Was it slurped standing over the kitchen counter? Was the menu written in a language you understood? Were you alone? Or at a table filled with family and friends?
1. I've pretty much answered this in roundabout ways under slightly different prompts. The best, the hardest, the most far-reaching decision I made this year was to stop being the representative payee for my daughter. It was a difficult decision involving a bunch of emotions and guilts and fears, but both of us will be better served and our relationship will evolve to a different place because of it. That's the short answer. How it plays out for her in 2014 remains to be seen, but it was the right choice for me.
2. The best meals are eaten in the company of someone you love, and we've eaten some good ones. The very best meal this year wasn't so much about the food as it was the company.
We were in Seattle visiting our daughter and her family, and after going on a shoe shopping trip for the kids and both parents in the morning, all eight of us went to the Ram Restaurant and Brewery in the Kent Station mall. With four kids from age 5 to 13, eating out anywhere is pretty rare, and while both parents work hard, they often struggle to make ends meet. The Ram is not a super fancy restaurant but has a good selection of gourmet burgers and upscale sandwiches in addition to other menu items, and is a mini-brewery -- a really nice atmosphere, and one they had never experienced.
Watching the kids read the menu and the ensuing discussion about this burger versus that one, and the final choices was So. Much. Fun. But when we were served, we watched the eyes of the two older boys (11 and 13) get big as saucers: the burgers were practically as big as their heads. They dug into those burgers and steak fries with gusto, commenting often on how good it tasted, how it was such a cool thing to do, and slowly they ate nearly everything on their plates. The 5 and 10 year olds were also chowing down, but their mom had helped them order items that were more appropriate to their appetite levels. And we could not have asked for more perfect manners from any of them.
I don't even remember what I ordered, although I remember everything was really good. When everyone had finally finished, the boys had a sizeable pile of fries left that they wanted to take home. But the two youngest had a complementary dessert with their kiddo meals, so we all consulted a dessert menu -- yes, even the two very well fed older boys. And they ordered root beer shakes. And while we were waiting for the desserts, the boys polished off every last fry. And then slurped up every last drop of those rich, root-beery, ice-creamy shakes, still commenting on how full, how stuffed, they were, how delicious it all was, and how it was the 'best meal' they had ever had.
Our waiter was simply marvelous, allowing plenty of time for decisions but still being attentive, and he served the kids full-sized desserts, not 'kid' size. (And yes, I had something chocolately and yummy too.) He helped turn this family lunch outing into a very special event for all of us.
We had such a great time that day, and I don't think those two boys will ever forget that meal. I don't think I will either.