Happy Accidents Help Make Merry

27 Nov, 2010

by Julie Ferris

Sometimes the best things that happen to you are accidents, which is why we say “happy accident” when talking of coincidences or other fortuitous events. Tonight was a fortuitous event for a number of people at the Pfister Hotel.

Its now traditional tree lighting ceremony began, for me anyway, in a crowded elevator where one patron had to simply defy all elevator expectation and turn to us all and say in awe, “are you all going to the tree lighting at the Pfister?” The entire group nodded. This tradition was new to her, but she didn’t realize, obviously, that so many others had seen the value in gathering in a beautiful space to kick of Christmas with all the staples: Santa, cookies, eggnog and a beautiful tree.

In the lobby, it was clear most of us were underdressed compared to the frills and fashions the toddlers were bedazzled with. Cake-toppers all, there were scores of young girls and boys holding their excitement for what parents surely wound them up about—the Man Himself would be arriving (not by eight-reindeered sleigh, but rather by City of Milwaukee fire truck, same amount of flare, surely).

As I wandered the event, I kept stumbling upon guests who had no idea what they were getting into. The lovely couple from West Bend who were just out for the evening and wanted to be sure and stop at the Pfister for a drink, (“I just love the piano bar!” the wife explained) were thrilled to find themselves in the midst of the holiday spirit. They had no idea the event was scheduled, but were oohing and aahing at the little ones flocking to the Man in Red.

Jolynn, Arlene and Lilly are long-time friends and fans of the Pfister and planned their evening cocktail hour to reunite with long-time staffer, Ellie and some Brandy Alexanders. When they discovered the ceremony, they instantly became belles of the ball. In addition to photographing any group of garland-garbed children, Jolynn also snagged a photo of herself with St. Nick and spent the rest of the event convincing her friends (and those seated near them) that they, too, should try out a lap they probably hadn’t sat on in 60 years. She succeeded, by the way, and the evening felt complete when barriers broke down and a roomful of adults started snapping photos with the Jolly One.

Jolynn’s friend, Arlene, planned to come in with her granddaughter (just adopted from Russia she proudly told me) to have their picture taken for her holiday cards. Tonight’s event convinced her she would return tomorrow and capture the moment in front of the glorious Pfister tree.

This trio was particularly fun because they spent the night giggling and touring the lobby with others, simply thrilled at the holiday cheer that had befallen them. It wasn’t until late in the ceremony that I suggested they have their own picture taken before the tree—they’d taken everyone else’s! This moment of “oh, well, of course we should!” surprise captured the evening best for me. No one is surprised at holiday spirit. It’s a regular event; we schedule it on the calendars. What I think it is, though, is that we are completely prone to being caught up in it and swept away despite our best attempts to be mature, only there for the children, or “too old for all that.”

The true sign of that was that folks had forgotten themselves and spent the evening meeting new people and enjoying children. And holiday carols. And cookies. I refuse to say it was just the eggnog that made everyone so gracious, engaged and cheerful. I insist the spirit alone was more than accidental tonight as the Pfister reified its tree-lighting tradition.

About the author

Julie Ferris

Julie is a devout Iowa Hawkeye fan despite her new Wisconsin roots, loves to read and is a sucker for good creme brulee and bad puns.

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