Local restaurants, theaters thankful for alternative Christmas traditions

CREATED Dec 25, 2012

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Reporter: Maggie Vespa

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Is the time honored trip over the river and through the woods a thing of the past?

As it turns out, many of you are trading in the classic Christmas scene at Grandma's house for a holiday out on the town.
It's true.  A meal from a menu has long been pegged the "plan b" of Christmas.
"We wanted to try something new, so we just came out and tried a new restaurant," said 13 year-old Olivia Turner.
Not anymore.
"A lot of folks bring out their kids or their families visiting, so they like to come out and have someone else cook for them," said Ren McGee, manager at Coco's bakery & restaurant.
McGee says in the last few years, they've stayed fully staffed on Christmas Day.
They say it's a necessity since many want that familiar food, as long as they don't have to make it.
"No, normally we eat at home, and cook the turkey and the stuffing and the mashed potatoes and all the homemade vegetables, but we did that for Thanksgiving and it's a lot of work," said Diane Stabile, who was out with her parents.
Business is just as bustling at local Chinese restaurants, especially for those whose families are far away.
"Family is younger," said Bill Liebson, who was out with friends.  "They grow up.  They have their own problems, their own children.  I have more fun with my friends."
"I have a huge family, so usually I'm with them, but plans change," said Jenna Lawrence.
And when dinner doesn't do it, many are turning a trip to the movies into a holiday tradition.
"It's casual.  You don't have all the big overhead family stuff going on," said Howard Kessler who came with friends and family.
"The big problem is trying to decide which movie," said Joyce Unger, who came with her son.
But above all, what we learned in our alternative holiday hunt is that no matter the setting, being with loved ones is always the focus.
"We're lucky to have each other, and we're a very close knit family," said Stabile.
"What's nicer than to be with people that you've known for a long time?" said Liebson.  "You get along well with them, and it's harmonious.  It's wonderful."
"(And what about you?  Why do you think it's important?)  Because it brings love and hope together," said 9 year-old Isabella Turner.
Movie theaters especially look forward to these less traditional crowds.
Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years Day are typically the three largest days at the box office.