Saturday, December 19, 2009
A Holiday peace falls on the neighborhood...
For years we closed the Inn for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Employees wanted off, Cat was a young child and we wanted to share these special days with our family, both in Springfield and in Thayer, MO, where I’m from. So we locked the doors and turned away the weary traveler who might call. Then some of our “regulars” (you know who you are!) asked if they could stay in the Carriage House or Cottage Inn, without breakfast, just to keep from having to sleep on Grandma’s couch during the holidays. That sounded fair, and a way for us to have a little income, so we came up with the plan that has served us well for the last few years. Wanna come during Thanksgiving or Christmas? Come on! The four rooms in the Carriage House and the two rooms in the Cottage Inn are offered at a 40% discount, since we let the staff go home for the holidays, and we don’t serve breakfast or freshen your rooms on those days. I am still on the property, and often my family, friends or employees will have informal gatherings in the Main House during that time, so this policy has served us and our guests well. This year Cat, my daughter, is having a party in the Main House parlors on December 23rd, and on Christmas Day, my friend Kim is having a family gathering here. I love sharing the old house with friends and family. The house seems to appreciate it as well.
An added benefit that I didn’t see coming is the peace of those holiday mornings at the Walnut Street Inn. Guests come and go, according to their family plans, with the relaxed demeanor earned by being the “out of town” family that is not responsible for “the meal” or the entertainment. My enviable task is to fill the bird feeder, keep the coffee hot, the newspapers ready, and conversation interesting as they wait for a spouse to dress, or the hour for the gathering to come. Neighbors and friends stop by on their way to the grocery store, or while just out stretching their legs, looking to share the solitude and peace of the quiet December morning. The neighborhood slows to a crawl with all the students gone, traffic at a minimum, and businesses around us closed. A holiday peace falls on the neighborhood, and all is well.
I can’t help thinking that it must be very similar to how this neighborhood was in 1894, when the Inn was built. The fireplaces in these old Queen Annes would have filled the streets with the haze of the sweet smell of oak. Horse drawn carriages would meander by. Smiles, waves, and calls of “Merry Christmas!” would fill the air, just like now; a holiday peace is in the air.
Here is hoping that your holiday mornings are as peaceful as ours. This will be a better year for all of us, and it can start now, this Christmas week. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for all your support and friendship. We wish you a happy and joyous holiday and a wonderful new year.
Gary at Walnut Street Inn
900 E Walnut Street
Springfield, MO 65806