Crystal Lee paused for a long moment Sunday afternoon as she considered what she really wants for Christmas. “A ring,” the 29-year-old waitress said. “An engagement ring. I would really like to get married.”
Crystal Lee paused for a long moment Sunday afternoon as she considered what she really wants for Christmas.
“A ring,” the 29-year-old waitress said. “An engagement ring. I would really like to get married.”
The mother of two young daughters works at the Broadview Restaurant and Lounge. All employees are expected to work a shift.
Lee is prepared for her third Christmas at the restaurant open 24 hours a day, seven days a week and every single day of the year. She also is hopeful.
“My boyfriend and I have been together for four years,” Lee said. “I was married once before, so I really don’t have a sense of urgency. But a ring would be nice.”
By the time she clocks in for first shift Christmas morning, Lee will either have a rock on the ring finger of her left hand or she will be content to wait.
Like many of those who work while the rest of us open presents, Lee and her family exchange gifts on Christmas Eve.
“If I’m not wearing the ring, I won’t be upset,” she said. “Lots of girls want that engagement ring at a special time, but if it doesn’t happen I’ll be OK.
“The main thing is that my girls have fun. My youngest is really into being a princess, so I bought her stuff like that. My oldest is learning to write and she is really into drawing and playing with clay. I got her a Moon Sand Kit and I’m excited to give that to her.”
Lee’s move to a Christmas Eve celebration was motivated by her work schedule last year.
“I worked Christmas day, then we tried to celebrate afterward. The kids were hurried and hurried and hurried and I just did not like that. We tried to do presents and then dinner and it was just a rush to do it all.
“It was hurry, hurry, hurry and I don’t think the kids really got to enjoy anything.”
The Broadview, which offers a buffet on Christmas, is busy for most of the day.
“We get people who are alone and don’t want to eat at home by themselves,” Lee said. “Then we have groups — families and friends — who just don’t want to cook.
“We also get a lot of elderly couples who don’t have families around.”
Lee said its easy to remember some of the customers from Christmas past.
“Last year an elderly lady came in by herself. She was thin and she looked really frail.
She was all dressed up and had no where to go I guess, except for dinner by herself.
“She couldn’t make it to the buffet, so I got everything she wanted for her. She was so nice and appreciative. I’ll always remember her.”
While Lee works first shift, Millie Wallace handles third shift at the Broadview. She’s a “16- or 17-year” veteran of Christmas nights at the Broadview.
“On Christmas, people are generally friendlier,” Wallace said. “The atmosphere ... it’s hard to describe the atmosphere here on Christmas. It’s just different.”
When Wallace first started as a waitress she was annoyed at the thought of not being home for everyone else’s holiday.
“My kids were young and I missed the time with them,” she said. “As time went on, it got better. My kids got older and Christmas wasn’t such a big deal.”
The Wallace family’s sense of holidays returned, thanks to an infusion of grandchildren.
“I have nine and another one on the way,” she said. “Little kids just make Christmas. Seeing the look in their eyes makes me excited for the day.”
Contact Tom Loewy at email@example.com