We have been going to Family night at the Chick Fil-A in the Tallahassee Mall here for years. You get a free kids meal with the purchase of a value meal. And all the kids get free ice cream. This saves us about 12 bucks every time we come. It's Tuesday nights. This means that every Tuesday we decide to go (which is most Tuesdays) I get to use the hour from 4-5 p.m. when I'm usually cooking dinner, to clean up the house and catch up on other chores. It also means we get home right at bedtime and kill the witching hours out at the mall. The way I figure it, we make money on the deal. If you figure in what we would pay for groceries at home, the utilities we save by using the mall bathrooms for 2 hours, what it would cost to pay someone to do the cleaning up I do every Tuesday afternoon, and the time kill, it is totally worth it.
Through the years the mall has had its ups and downs. I remember the Tallahassee Mall being cool when my sisters were in college here. I even played miniature golf on the course behind the mall which is now overgrown bushes we drive by every week. The mall got a movie theater shortly after I came here for college and had a surge of good years but since we've been going there on Tuesdays it has begun to decline. This is good for us because the mall is like a ghost town and the kids can be a tad disruptive (because my kids always max out at "a tad disruptive" --right) and you don't feel like you're bothering anyone. We invite friends. We put together 8 tables. No one cares. Imagine our disappointment when we found out last Tuesday that the mall is going up for auction and Chick Fil-A has decided to pull out and will be closing on March 31st.
I have tried all week to put it out of my mind. I planned a big "last time" party event in my mind for sometime in March. I figured we'd invite everyone who ever came with us to the mall. It seemed so far away. Unfortunately when we arrived at Chick Fil-A tonight we found out that it was the last "kids eat free" night. It is the end of an era. We can still go to the mall until the end of March of course, but it will not have as much appeal--having to pay full price.
This evening the children were eating and hanging out with their friends. Unaware that their sweet hook-up of nuggets, fries, and ice cream once a week was coming to an end. I gazed at their innocent faces. They smile, dip their fry in ketchup, and laugh, fully oblivious of the implications this has for us. It is completely and totally sad. Little Juliet slept in her car seat and I looked down at her sweet innocence. She will never know the good times at the T-mall.
Other restaraunts have kids eat free deals. Even other Chick Fil-A's in town. But we own the mall. It is our space. I have come to enjoy the smell of the questionably nasty food court. The eclectic music they play. The stuffiness of the mall as they try to save money on their utilites by raising the thermostat. Too bad it didn't work. I would have endured even hotter temperatures to prolong kids night a little longer.
So I will recite the cliches you tell yourself when change like this occurs. The end of one thing is always the beginning of something else. At least we still have each other. Everything will work out in the end. When God closes a door, He always opens a window. All's well that ends well. Eat more chicken!