When we first ran this post last November, it never crossed our mind that, almost nine months later, we'd still be unable to take our mom out to dinner at The Palm, her favorite Houston restaurant. And even though the three of us have been fully vaccinated, given Mom's age, we can't chance indoor dining while the Delta variant runs rampant in Houston.

Not only is it incredibly sad, it's also highly frustrating as she might not get to eat there before they move to a new location in downtown Houston. (We wonder if the cartoons and caricatures on the walls, including one of Black in her Ferrari racecar, will be moving, too.)

It was bad enough that we couldn't take our mom for her traditional Mother's Day lobster dinner at The Palm (although we never celebrate it on the actual day as restaurants are too crowded). Thanks to the pandemic, restaurants were either closed or take-out only. Given our mom is in her 90s and has pre-existing conditions, she was distancing herself from the rest of the world and basically secluded at home. (Something, by the way, she's definitely not happy about.)

We never dreamed, however, that …


six months later we'd have to forego her November birthday celebration, which is the same lobster dinner at the same restaurant. Clearly for our Mom, going out to dinner at a nice restaurant with her daughters has always been a special treat and something she looks forward to (or maybe it's just the lobster). While, for Red, going out to eat used to be a fun and relaxing escape from cooking at home, now it's a risk-reward decision filled with anxiety and stress. And always the same decision, "Not worth it." For Black, it's always been a "social thing" as she's had a long-standing (decades long!) Saturday night date with her best friends, John and Diana. Now, they visit over the phone and laugh about how much lower their AmEx bills are every month.

From a strictly pragmatic perspective – How do you maintain social distancing from anyone not in your household when you go out to eat? Obviously, you have to take off your mask to eat and drink (although there are masks that accommodate straws). Is it even feasible to go out to eat with people not in your "personal bubble"? Climate and weather permitting, how safe is it to eat outdoors?

But it's the emotional implications that make it so difficult. We're now in the midst of what Red calls the "silly season" where dining out and holiday parties have always been such a big part of celebrating the season. The pandemic has been with us for almost a year and we just want a break. A holiday break. So, now what?

The answers will be different for everyone, as we all have our own way of looking at risk-reward. Most of us are already struggling with holidays that are celebrated with food, family, and friends. Maybe if we focus on the holiday spirit, recognizing we're all facing the same challenges, and try to keep things in perspective, knowing next year will be better. And mix in a little humor …

Got your mask? Check. Have your battle plan ready. Check. Ready to keep distance. Check. Going into battle? No, just going out to eat.

P.S. – For those of you wondering about Mom's lobster dinners, we did a belated take-out for her Mother's Day dinner and she said it was the best lobster she had ever eaten. Full stop. And she's looking forward to the birthday dinner. Maybe, it is just the food.

Photo by enviromantic for iStock


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I know I shouldn’t say this, but I can’t stand N95 masks! They make me feel like a duck.


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That quacks me up. Regardless, they are much more effective than cloth masks. And, FYI, they do come in different shapes.


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I just wish they were more comfortable.
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Photo by bhofack2 for iStock

Popcorn. Just the thought of popcorn makes me smile, makes me want to indulge, makes me happy. And I’m guessing my popcorn obsession makes Black roll her eyes (although she might admit it can be a healthy snack). However, plenty of people must love popcorn as much as I do. Why else would there be a National Popcorn Day?!

Over the past few years, the pandemic posed challenges that none of us could’ve foreseen (and I’ll never forget the dedication of the front-line workers or make light of the sacrifices so many had to make). But part of me has to laugh at the irony because it ended my seemingly easy “escape” from the stresses of life – going to the movies and enjoying the largest bucket of popcorn – when I needed it the most.

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Design by Sawyer Pennington, Underlying photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash


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Well, it’s our first column of the year. A new beginning. Any “new” ideas for topics? Something other than New Year’s resolutions.


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Is there a reason you do not want to talk about resolutions?


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Obviously, yours was not to ask fewer questions.


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That will never happen, but you are avoiding the question. Why?


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Because every year, I have a long list of things I want to do, and I start strong, but within a few months, I fall back into old habits. Sometimes it only takes weeks. It’s frustrating and disappointing.


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Next question. What is the opposite of “old?"
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