Last weekend my husband and I decided to visit a small family-owned Chinese Restaurant in a city not far down the road from where we live. Sitting there brought back a warm memory from my childhood that I decided to write about for Memories on Mondays this week...
Growing up in a small town in the Midwest, there wasn't much in the way of clothing stores. A few times each year my mom would plan a shopping trip to a small city about an hour away that had a larger downtown area with better shopping. My sisters and I always looked forward to these trips with great excitement. Not only did it mean a few new outfits and maybe a new pair of shoes or a coat for each of us, it also meant going to a very special place for lunch.
During World War II my mom had served as a telephone operator in Portland, Oregon. Eventually she got homesick and returned to the Midwest to this small city not far from where she grew up to be closer to her parents. She shared quarters in a rooming house with a few other working girls. When we went shopping she would drive by the places she used to live and work and tell us stories from her life before marriage to my Dad. It was hard to imagine my mom as anything but a mom, but we loved hearing about it.
We would shop for awhile in the morning, and then eagerly head across Main Street to an authentic Chinese Restaurant for lunch. We always ordered mom's favorite entree - chicken chowmein served with crunchy noodles and bowls of steamed rice. Mom knew the Chinese couple who operated this restaurant from her pre-marriage days, and would tell us how she and her friends at the boarding house would roll up the legs of their pajamas at night, pull on long coats and shoes, and head over to the restaurant for a bite to eat. I loved how she would smile and laugh as she told us about this carefree time in her life.
As little girls growing up in the very "white bread" Midwest, this beautifully decorated restaurant with it's bright red and gold decor and fancy menus with items listed in Chinese as well as English fascinated us. Try as I might, I can't remember the name of the place anymore. (I do well to remember my own name most days :-) But I remember exactly how it looked, and how grown up and special we felt as we ate there with Mom and waited eagerly to see what fortunes might await us in our cookies at the the finish. All three of us acquired a love for Chinese food that remains with us to this day.
When I think of my childhood, what stands out most is times like this and the extra effort my mom put in to making simple things and ordinary times special. It is a lesson that could well be heard by today's parents seeking to amuse their children with high-dollar gifts and high-profile adventures. It isn't so much what you do with your children, and definitely not how much you spend, it's that you take the TIME and the EFFORT to make happy memories WITH them!
Why don't you share a special memory with us sometime this week? Write your post and add a link on the Memories on Mondays website. Leave a comment here too!