On Monday, people all over Canada celebrated Canada Day, a public holiday created to commemorate the unification of the country. This year I wanted to do something we had never done before – stand in line to receive a free meal at the Mandarin restaurant, an eatery that offers an eclectic buffet.
I left home on the morning of the public holiday before the rest of my family to get into the lineup. I was ready before everyone else and was worried that the line would already be long. I was glad I made this decision as when I arrived at the venue at 9:20am, the queue for lunch was already quite long. I had come prepared, however, and settled in with my current read.
While waiting in the line, we were offered water by the managers of the restaurant. After a 2 hour wait, the owner organised a cookie for every person in the queue. He also walked down the line and chatted with people – which was really nice. You are probably wondering why he gives a free meal to Canadians every five years: as an immigrant himself, he wants to give back to the community and this is the way in which he does it.
At 12 noon, the line began to move as they began letting people in. The restaurant is quite large and we were able to get into the first sitting. We moved out of the midday sun into the air-conditioned space of the restaurant with a sense of relief. The first thing I noticed upon entering was the way the place had been decorated. I loved the Canadian flags all over!
Once in the restaurant, we waited a little while to be seated. We did not mind waiting – after all, this was part of the experience that we had signed up for! The Canadians around us were all smiling – and looking forward to the meal that we were to receive.
The owner had assured us that the meal would be exactly what we are offered when we pay to dine there. My husband and I were convinced that the more expensive dishes (such as the prawns) would be cut from the menu and we were pleasantly surprised to see that all our favourites were available – with some Canadian dishes thrown in.
The meal was delicious and we enjoyed every bite. What pleased us especially is that we were not rushed – even though there was a long line of people waiting outside to get into the restaurant. We could savour our choices and enjoy our family time eating together.
We left the restaurant very full – as I always do when eating at a buffet. There are just too many dishes to try out! I was thankful that my family had agreed to stand in the line with me as it was a wonderful experience for Canada Day.
This week I am grateful to the Mandarin chain of restaurants for opening up their spaces and offering a free meal to Canadian citizens. Not only did I get a free meal, but I also added another experience to those of previous celebrations on 1 July.
What are you grateful for this week?
© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019
(This post is part of my weekly gratitude reflection. You are welcome to join in and share your post in the comments.)