May I Take Your Order?

In the early years of our marriage, going out to dinner was a really big deal for Marianne and me because funds were so scarce at that time. These days, we typically dine out once a week as an established “date night” tradition; and, while we deliberately avoid the higher end (i.e., more expensive) restaurants, we also never really worry about paying the tab.

After a recent meal, as we were waiting for our check, an embarrassing memory came to mind. We were a young and still childless couple, and we had finally saved up enough money to treat ourselves to dinner out. I recommended that we try a restaurant my first family used to patronize when I was a boy. I remembered really liking their Italian dishes and looked forward to savoring one of my childhood favorites once again.

When we arrived, I noticed immediately that the restaurant had a new name; and, that was not the only thing that had changed. We were seated and handed menus, and our server told us that she would be back in a few minutes to take our order. When we looked at our choices – and their cost – our hearts sank. We didn’t have nearly enough money.

When our server came back, I explained that we had come there so that I could introduce my wife to one of my favorite childhood restaurants, and we’d not been prepared for the change in ownership and accompanying changes to the menu. In fact, I pointed out, my favorite childhood dish was no longer offered. We were told that the chef could make that dish as a special order, but I protested that it just wouldn’t be the same.

At that point, I think our server perceived what was happening, and she said: “I understand sir.” We thanked her for her kindness, gathered our things, and left. Perhaps it was my imagination, but it felt as though the other diners were staring at us as we exited, that they were somehow in on our shame.

Of course, I felt awful at the time, but now I am honestly grateful for the memory. Part of married life is walking through hardship together. Somehow, “date night” dinners are tastier and more meaningful now because we couldn’t afford that long-ago meal.

As I look across the table, that same beautiful woman is still my companion, for richer or poorer. We are so very blessed.

9 thoughts on “May I Take Your Order?

  1. Joanne Hastings

    Hi Steve,

    I remember being married some 30 years ago with only one child at the time. Our weekly dinner-out treat, was the Papa Gino’s, all you can eat Tuesday night special. I wasn’t embarrassed that it was all that we could afford; I actually thought I was being frugal. However, now, to think that I pay more for a glass of wine, than the whole meal at Papa Gino’s, is mind boggling! No matter the time, the place, having much or having little, being rich or poor, walking with Christ in all these moments, brings sobering humility and grace.

    Recently, I was looking at my cellar treasures, things that I thought would last forever, now collecting dust, and moths. I realized that I tarry from one moment in time to the next, always seeking what I think I “need”… when in reality all I really need is to follow the words of Christ. I saved the “firsts” of everything my children ever used or created. Now my children could care less if they ever saw these items again. I somehow developed emotional attachments to these articles, thinking one day they would want them and it would have great meaning or reminisce. I realize our children have their ‘own agenda’ and the fire in them does not necessarily burn the same as ours nor does it mean that we will even understand what their journey is about.

    I’ve tried and thought about it many times, to simplify my life from all these earthly belongings; even the very thought and fervor, creates so much unneeded stress. I can’t seem to make it happen. I truly want to let go of “things ” that keep my attention off of the important lessons in life… but then again maybe that in and of itself for a time, was the lesson. Maybe now that I realize this, I can let it go, bury it with the experience and move on.

    Thank you, as always, for provoking great thought through your writings.

    Blessings, Joanne Hastings

    On Sun, Feb 27, 2022, 12:15 PM Musings Amid the Thorns wrote:

    > sdalton43 posted: “In the early years of our marriage, going out to dinner > was a really big deal for Marianne and me because funds were so scarce at > that time. These days, we typically dine out once a week as an established > “date night” tradition; and, while we deliberately” >

  2. Sharon Rogers Chace

    Opinions for deceased relatives that strike me as sensible. “No shame in being poor. It is just inconvenient.” Ernie’s mother. “Always OK to say: Cannot afford it.” Ellie who brought me up after my mother died.

  3. Cathy Cunningham

    Thanks for sharing this memory. It’s a good reminder that shared hard times are important in building relationships. We never want the hard times, but sharing them makes our relationships more robust and resilient in a way that the good times can’t. And, as you pointed out, it also helps make us more grateful for the good times we share!


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