Ever since we were married, Bill and I (and later the kids) have spent Christmas Eve with one side of the family or the other. The last few years we have done Christmas Eve with Bill's side of the family and then Christmas Day with my side of the family. It works for our family. Well this year, Bill's mom asked if we could do Christmas with her and Bill's step-dad on December 26 instead. They would bring Christmas up to our house for the kids. We said okay that was fine. That meant that our Christmas Eve was suddenly free. Bill had to work until noon, but then he was off. So after talking it over, we decided that we would start a new tradition for our family by taking the kids out to eat and leaving the waiter a nice tip (as if someone has to work on Christmas Eve at least we can make it worthwhile for them), and then we would drive around looking at Christmas light displays in our town.
When Bill was working in restaurant management, Steak-n-Shake decided to stay open their normal 24 hours on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, so we decided to give them a call and see if that was still the case. Not really formal, but a good place to take the kids (and we had a gift card for there that we had had for 2 years to use). Bill called them on Tuesday and yes they were open all day Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Good.
So after lounging around Christmas Eve afternoon, we packed the kids up and heading an hour away to Steak-n-Shake. We get there at 5:05. Go up to the doors...and they are locked! They closed at 5:00 and wouldn't reopen until 11 the next day. As we are sitting in the parking lot, Bill calls them and speaks to the manager who gives him excuse after excuse. Needless to say, Steak-n-Shake has lost our business forever.
As Bill is on the phone with them, I decide to head about 15 minutes farther south as I had gotten an email earlier in the day from Applebee's saying they were open until 8 on Christmas Eve. This particular one was also near a mall so I figured they should be open. I was right.
Well, not really. We were seated right away. However, it took our waiter over 10 minutes to get to our table. He only had 2 other tables. We ordered. He got the kids' drink orders wrong-- brought out 2 sierra mists and 1 lemonade. We don't let the boys drink pop....Then when the food came out, Rebecca and Jacob's orders were wrong (They had ordered cheese quesadillas and were brought out grilled chicken quesadillas--a more expensive dish and one my kids won't eat (they don't like grilled chicken)) Those were sent back. Manager brought out new, correct dishes. Food was good. Waiter never came back to refill drinks, etc. Brought bill to table and said we could pay at the electronic kiosk at the table. Looked at bill, he charged us for more expensive kid's meals. Called him over, he said he had to get manager to change it. 20 minutes later we are still waiting for the manager....AND as we are waiting a similar issue is going on at a table next to us with similar issues. Finally, I got the kids up to leave and to let Bill deal with it....We were there for over 2 hours!
Needless to say, our idea of leaving someone who was being forced to work on Christmas Eve was for naught. The service was beyond lousy...
After we left Applebees, we headed back to our town. About halfway there, Jacob really had to go to the bathroom, so we stopped at my parent's house and said hi to them. My dad said it was a welcome distraction from wrapping gifts. LOL
After we left their house, we finally made it back to our town and we drove around looking at Christmas lights. There were some really nice displays. I didn't take any pictures as I was the one driving. I did see one set that I would like to get in the future.
When we got home, it was discovered that Santa had come early and left something under the tree--- new pajamas for the family and the book, Twas the Night Before Christmas.