Memories. How they can really creep up on you. (This is not a sponsored post, by the way. It’s just me feeling a little melancholy and taking a little stroll down memory lane.) My oldest son is now 21 years old, and my youngest son is 17. They are as different as night and day. And yet, in a couple of ways, they are the same. One thing they have in common is their uncanny ability to spot the McDonald’s golden arches from miles away. And on a cloudy, rainy day. Or in a driving blizzard. It never mattered the conditions outside, they could find that restaurant. It was like a version of paradise by the dashboard light. I was never able to figure out why that was – for the food, for the fun, or for the memories. Or maybe it’s a combination of all of those things.
Memories of Mickey D’s cross generations in my family. I grew up with them, and had visited plenty of times as a child myself. I remember when my Mom used to make their $0.25 cheeseburger night a take out treat for us for dinner. I remember her obsession with McRibs too. (By the way. If you like their rib sandwich, ask them to put a slice of cheese on there sometime. Yum.) For my own family, one of the earliest memories was one Halloween early in TJ’s life. He wanted to stop at McDonald’s while trick or treating. I was skeptical they’d be doing anything, but my son insisted. Lo and behold we found Ronald, handing out free small fries. My son was sold. They were his favorite thing back then. If we ever went past those golden arches he’d be asking for fries. I can’t blame him, when it comes to fast food fries theirs have definitely always been the best.
Fast forward two or three years. TJ still loved the chain. We were traveling to see my husband’s family up in New Hampshire. Midway through the trip my son saw the golden arches about ten miles down the road. I kid, it wasn’t ten. Two maybe. He never missed them. Anyway. We’d never been to this particular one before. We went in and discovered an area called the McSnack Shack. He thought that name was the best. We were happy to have found it, as McDonald’s was always one place we could go that made everyone happy. They’ve always had something for everyone, something that can be challenging in my family. We all loved the fries, but that was where our similarities ended. TJ always wanted a Happy Meal as a child. Hubby frequently wanted the Filet O Fish. I had a thing for the chicken nuggets. For the rest of that trip, and for months after, he’d talk about the McSnack Shack, and then put Mc in front of every other word as well, giggling like mad.
Fast forward a tiny bit more to the time we had my youngest CJ. Like his brother, he was a devout fan of the chicken nuggets and fries. He would have gladly eaten them daily if possible. When he was little we seemed to spend endless hours traveling to different doctors, as far away as Philadelphia. On those trips we almost always stopped at the restaurant to help ease his stress from a day filled with a lot less then fun. He like his older brother, had also developed the uncanny knack for spotting golden arches from miles away.
Nowadays CJ’s diet is substantially different then it was back then, as he has Celiac disease and is supposed to be gluten-free. His menu choices are definitely limited now, but his love for stopping at the restaurant is not. It’s a treat and a little reprieve for him. Just the other night we stopped during a cold, driving rain. He’d been cooped up in the car most of the day doing errands, so the stop delighted him. He had a blast playing in the indoor playground. (Ssssh, don’t tell. He’s 17 so they frown on someone of his size being there, despite the fact that’s he’s pretty small. He’s probably slightly too large for the slide but he folds himself up to fit anyway.) In between climbing and sliding he’d come over to the table and enjoy some more of his sundae. Before heading home I checked in with my oldest. When he learned where we were he asked me if I’d bring him something home. After I told him yes he asked what they had. That may sound funny, but they’re always adding in new things so I found it to be a reasonable question. I quickly read him highlights, mentioning a number of the different burgers, chicken and wraps I thought might interest him. He confirmed he could not have his beloved bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel due to the evening hour. In the end he asked me to bring him home a chicken sandwich and fries. Sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same, right? Both of my children had a smile that night.