Here’s my ‘meal of the year’ award

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 4, 2000

With the end of the year looming ahead I thought I would tell y’all about my pick for &uot;meal of the year.&uot;

Thanks to my husband’s work with a national board our family gets to travel with him to different parts of the country.

Naturally we always check out the local restaurants and usually they provide me with a memorable meal. You know, the kind of meal where everything is perfect — the service, the food and the atmosphere.

Email newsletter signup

My &uot;meal of the year&uot; for 1999 came in an unexpected place, but it’s definitely one I won’t forget.

In September, our family went to Orlando, Fla.. Yes, I took my children out of school and went to see the &uot;mouse.&uot;

We have been many times in September, and it is actually our favorite time. Most people have gone back to school, the weather is great even if it is the end of hurricane season. This year our luck turned and so did Hurricane Floyd.

On that Tuesday, we bravely headed out to the Disney parks, we already knew they would only be open until 2 p.m. It was overcast but warm, and we weren’t going to miss a thing.

At exactly 2 p.m. as we headed to our car the sky opened up and rain came down by the bucketfuls.

We made it back to our hotel where a note from hotel management waited to tell us how to stay to the inside of our suite and close off the room with the window. Okay, now I was a little scared.

The day before I had stocked up on junk food and juice. Our little refrigerator was bursting at the seams, but it didn’t seem comforting. And it was too late to evacuate.

It was eerie to look out and see the empty highway and the clouds in the sky swirling in a definite circular motion.

As the evening wore on, the walls in our room seemed to shrink, and it was clearly time to venture out and see what was going on in the rest of the hotel. An hour later I was in the middle of what will always be the highlight of the trip for me.

My three kids and I were sitting in the lounge (that sounds better than the bar) playing Uno. Glasses of Diet Coke and Dr. Pepper at our elbows, and plates of nachos, fries and chips on our table.

Did I mention that the kids were in various states of dress? Emily had her pajamas on and her stuffed animal helping her with her cards. If I remember correctly Matthew and Holly had on sweats and long underwear, and they were all barefoot.

We laughed, played cards and ate. We tried not to look when Emily laid her cards down on the table. But we couldn’t hold our laughter when Matthew called the waitress &uot;hey baby&uot; and she came right over to him after ignoring my waving hand. Most important, we talked more than we had in a while.

I saw a side of my children that I had never seen. A calmness that they believed everything would be all right and that as a unit we could tackle anything.

From earlier that day when Holly and Matthew helped me push Emily through Epcot Center at break-neck speed until later when even Emily quietly listened when I explained what we would need to do if the power went out.

Later we reluctantly returned to our room. The kids finally fell asleep with the rain beating on the window and the blue glow of the Weather Channel lighting the room. Around 3 a.m. Floyd turned again, and the weather immediately got better.

The next morning we did homework and by mid-afternoon we were back in the Disney mode and going strong. There are some memories of 1999 that may fade but my &uot;meal of the year&uot; will not. It may not have been the fanciest, and the service was a little slow but my dinner companions made it memorable.

Christina Hall is the lifestyle editor at The Democrat. She can be reached at 442-9101, ext. 249 or by e-mail at