Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holiday Traditions Come Full Circle

I spent last weekend in Portland for a holiday benefit concert. Side note- it was amazing. In one evening we saw Matt Nathenson, Amos Lee, Augustana and The Pretenders. Yes- I live a charmed life.

The next afternoon my sister invited me out for some traditional holiday shopping and lunch. My initial response was- "do we have to?". I get a little scared thinking of the holiday crowds, parking, crying, yelling, etc. etc. That's why I love shopping online ( ).

I succumbed and met her at the downtown Macy's. I was "conveniently" 30 minutes late so she had picked up what she needed from Macy's and was ready to eat. Where to? She suggested "The Nines" for lunch. She kinda mumbled that it's the new hot spot in Portland- but would suit our needs since we were starved and it was in the same building.

Immediately upon entering the lobby my holiday frustrations dissipated and my mood turned for the best. I knew simply by looking around I was going to enjoy this lunch. The lobby had a very distinct design aesthetic that I loved. The elevator took us up to the 8th floor and we entered the restaurant- which was smack dab in the center of the hotel. All the rooms look down into the open and airy restaurant. We were immediately greeted and seated.

At this point a memorable and delicious lunch followed. We each tried something recommended by our waitress and paired our lunch with some holiday cheer. An hour later and bellies full we were not quite yet ready to leave and join the holiday crowds- so we unanimously decided on ordering more holiday cheer. We got the banana cream pie with a side of espresso ice cream paired with champagne.

The rest of my afternoon was a blur- a blur of pure holiday bliss. That amazing and wonderful lunch put my holiday stress aside and allowed me to savor the season. It was just what I needed. A lovely and long holiday lunch in a wonderfully inspiring atmosphere.

I later spoke with my mom about my lunch excursion and she giggled in a very knowing way. It's wasn't long ago she herself would look forward to holiday outings at that same Meier and Frank (now Macy's- but then M&F) to have tea at the Georgian room and visit the Toyland.
I asked my mom to share her experiences in her own words:
"The Meier & Frank Georgian Tea Room holds special holiday memories for me. The linens were exquisite, the service superb and the food fabulous. The best part of the whole experiences was the Tea Room's ambiance.
The elegance and formality was magical, especially as a child. Women would never consider entering the room without the proper attire and heels. Men, of course wore a tie and coat. The little girls like myself put on their very best dress with a petty coat, socks with ruffles and patton leather shoes!!!
After our elegant luncheon on the 10th floor my mother and I would pay a visit to the Meier & Frank Toyland. A visit to Toyland was a tradition that I insisted was met every holiday season. The room was breathtaking with toys, twinkling lights, The Cinnamon Bear and the eagerly anticipated "Toyland Train". I think my love of trains had it's beginning in this magical room. The train would travel around a track that circled the ceiling, whistling and chugging as it ran it's course.
Gone now are the tearoom, train, Cinnamon Bear and Toyland. However- the beautiful holiday memories will remain in my heart forever." Jeani Stevens

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