2016 has not been a kind year, so it was more important than ever that we leave the confines of Saint Louis for the glittering holiday lights of the Kansas City Plaza. Once again we invited the siblings and they all signed up except brother and sister-in-law.
This led to lots of pre-trip emails about ‘where are we going to eat?’ and ‘what are we going to do?’ It’s so much easier when you just let The Wife make all the decisions. We wound up at the same hotel, but despite having driven there two previous years without incident, this year we wound up in Kansas. Stupid Google Maps. We turned around and headed for downtown figuring we’d get to the right place eventually. We did.
It was significantly colder this year than the 2 previous. It’s not a terrible walk from the hotel to the plaza provided it’s not significantly cold. We took the shuttle. The shuttle was warm and the driver was friendly. We had reservations for P.F. Chang’s, because, you know, Cindy is into reservations. She also had a couple of gift cards, so who am I to argue? Someone suggests we order a bunch of food and share. What? I hate sharing food. You always have to worry about eating too much and not getting enough and not letting other people get their fair share. Just let me order my own food and you order yours. But alas, compromise.
Supper was good and I ate stuff I wouldn’t usually eat and I had my fill and that’s what matters. I assume everyone else did as well. After eating we went for a walk to take in the lights and look for some weird doll for one of the nieces. Didn’t find it. Caught the shuttle back to the hotel. Andrew got a little stressed waiting for the shuttle, so we took him to the pool when we got back. That made it all better. Especially the hot tub.
The next morning I was enjoying a sound sleep — something I rarely get these days — when the PHONE RINGS. “We’re down having breakfast. Are you joining us?” What? What time is it? “It’s 8 o’clock. We’ll be here for a while.” Eight O’Clock in the freaking A.M. On a Saturday. On holiday. Laurie dutifully gets ready and goes downstairs. The son and I join them at 9:30, because breakfast closes at 10 a.m and there’s no reason on earth to get there before then.
We decide to spend the morning at the World War One Museum, because as luck would have it they’re celebrating their 10th anniversary this year and admission this weekend is free. One of the striking parts of the museum is the tower, which as luck would have it we could go up in free. Everyone else had foolishly turned in their coats at the coat check so they didn’t appreciate the view.
It’s a pretty cool museum — tanks and guns and uniforms and bombs and whatnot. An informative 15-minute film offers a prelude to the war, then you walk through a large section, then there’s another short film that talks about how the U.S. joined the war, then you go in another large section, but strangely there’s no final film telling you how the war ends. I’m pretty sure we won, but I wasn’t about to stand there and read the timeline all the way to the end. Laurie tried to, but we eventually dragged her out.
Some idiot — I think it was me — suggested we walk from the museum down the hill to Union Station and from there into the habitrail that would take us through a hotel and on to Crown Center. What was I thinking? That’s way too long a walk for an old man, especially in this cold. Yet there we went, walking on icy steps (that had been blocked off with rope) down to the frozen trail to the train station. It was nicely decorated with a pretty tree that we took many photos next to — both of ourselves and various strangers. After trudging our way through the maze into Crown Center I knew I would die if I had to walk back to the car. After some looking around we settled in the food court where Andrew and I drank sodas while everyone else (except Teresa) walked back to the cars and brought them around for us. Sometimes family is worth it.
We returned to the hotel but the indefatigable Laurie, Cindy and Chuck quickly took off for the plaza to shop. The rest of us joined them a couple of hours later. The plan was an early supper at the Cheesecake Factory. Like last year, we were thwarted by the insane crowd. What is the deal with Kansas City and this Cheesecake Factory? The place was jam-packed at 4 p.m. The wait was going to be 90 minutes. There was nowhere to stand, let alone sit, so we had to go back into the cold. We decided, like last year, that it wasn’t worth it and went back to Chuy’s, the Mexican place with the clever T-shirts. A short wait and the food was as good as last year. Screw you, Cheesecake Factory.
Actually, we did go back to CF after dinner and got some cheesecake to take back to the hotel (It was still insanely crowded at CF). Happy Hour was still going on at the hotel so we got some drinks and ate cheesecake. Took Andrew back to the hot tub to finish off the day. We deserved it.
The next morning no one called me and yet we somehow made it down to breakfast before it closed down. After that was the annual cursing of the hotel for not having enough elevators as we tried to load up our belongings before heading home.
Merry Christmas and all that.