So, yesterday after writing about how I was going to find some balance between work and home and buckle down to work on my business plan for the rest of the day, I went on a date with my honey and her mom to the Grove Park Inn to finally see the gingerbread houses.

You see, each year, the Grove Park Inn hosts the National Gingerbread House Competition here in Asheville. From the time of the competition until the last day of Christmas (January 5th), the gingerbread houses remain on display in the hotel. As our Christmas present, Barb took us to lunch there and then we perused the winners.

Now, I am not great at changing focus midway through the day. When confronted with changing my plan, I will first resist, then I will give in, and then I get a little cranky because I didn’t get my way.  I get upset that my loved ones have pulled me away from my important work to go have fun.  Then, I resent myself for being upset at being “forced” to have fun with my family.  It’s a vicious cycle which my new resolution is designed to break.

Barb decided that yesterday was the day and, at 11am, asked us if we would like to go.  Striving to embody my new word of the year, I gritted my teeth and said yes. Yes, I would go have a lovely lunch and see the gingerbread houses and whatever other fabulous art was around the place instead of working all afternoon on my business plan which really MUST get done. I would drive us around the city, not only to the Inn, but also to two different grocery stores on the way home in order to pick up the other extras that we need.

Grrr….

However, once that yes was out of my mouth, I gave up any idea of work for the rest of the day. Yesterday, the eleventh day of Christmas, would be about my family.  Making that choice changed my being.  Instead of growling, my heart sang.  I got into the car with a happy heart and a hungry tummy.

We began with a visit to the Grovewood Gallery, a wonderful celebration of local talent which included everything from large sculptures and paintings to small mugs and wooden bowls. Fun and fancy runs through this gallery and I found several things that delighted my eyes and my soul.  However, the belly persisted.

Crossing the road to the Grove Park Inn, we began our trek. “I’ve been here so many times and I always get lost!” declared my mother-in-law as we entered the building.

My belly gave me a little grumble.  Great.  I fought my growing irritation.

She climbed into the elevator and hit one of the buttons. “I think that’s the right one.”

Lord.

At least the surroundings continued to be gorgeous. The glass elevator lifted us several levels, affording us a view of the old outer wall. Stones poked out, filling the wall with texture and enhancing the strong arts and crafts aesthetic. We exited the elevator and followed my mother-in-law as she wandered through the hallways, continuing to assert that “I told you I always get lost.”

Feeling the mood of our little group turning, she walked into a small storefront (the hotel is filled with little shops and galleries) and asked for directions. A darling fellow walked us all the way down hallways and through the lobby (An elegantly humungous space with a fireplace you could walk into if there hadn’t been a giant fire raging) to the little restaurant she had picked. The view from Edison’s looked out to a panorama of mountains, and they seated us by the fireplace, much more cozy than the one in the main lobby.

Sitting by the fire, looking forward to my fried green tomato salad, I sipped a beer (Highland Brewing’s Gaelic Amber) and embraced my choice.

Highland Brewing Gaelic Amber Ale

The picture’s a little blurry. I took it after I’d started sipping.

We laughed and chatted all through lunch and the whole thing ended with my mother-in-law pulling one of her classic moves.

Our waiter came to the table and asked if we wanted dessert. She looked him straight in the eye and said, “Oh! Do you do anything free for birthdays? It’s her birthday!.” She pointed at Stephanie.

Absolutely aghast, Steph exclaimed, “No! Mom. No. It’s not….”

Barb shook her head and rolled her eyes. “She always denies it.”

Our waiter smiled and gave Barb a knowing look. “Of course.” He started to leave.

“Wait!” Steph stopped him. “Is it small?”

“Yes. Very small. Just a little taste.”

“All right.” She allowed the waiter to make his way back to the kitchen.

“Your birthday is in just a few days, honey.” Barb smiled.

Steph’s birthday is on the 16th, a full eleven days away.

“Can’t we just start celebrating now?  After all, you can celebrate for the whole month of January.”

We all knew that the dessert was headed to the table.

“Of course,” Steph gave in and smiled. “Sure.”

The elegant plate contained a three pieces of chocolate truffle separated by a halved strawberry laying atop a small pond of caramel. Happy Birthday was written below.

Nothing like a little chocolate to soothe the embarrassment of the moment.

After lunch, we took our time wandering back through the Inn, exploring the lobby and even walking outside to enjoy the gorgeous décor and view on the deck.

View from the Grove Park Inn Barb & the Reindeer

We discovered these baskets and I thought of my friend Tracy.

Basket Display

On our final way out, we took a little time to admire the champion of the Gingerbread House competition.

The Gingerbread Champion

All in all, a successful bit of family fun for the middle of the week.  I even managed to get a little knitting done yesterday evening (I’m through the leg and into the heel flap of the Socks for Mary).

Now, time to get back to work!  Balance works both ways.