BREAKFAST WITH SANTA | December 3, 2016 | What Do You Want From Santa? (Adult Version)

Breakfast With Santa, December 3, 2016

On the day after Thanksgiving, the Pfister Christmas tree was lit and Santa arrived to the applause of adults, the squeals of children, and the caroling of madrigals in the packed lobby.  But Santa didn’t return to the North Pole right away.  Instead, for the next three Saturdays, Mr. and Mrs. Claus (and a sledful of elves) are revisiting the Hotel at Breakfast With Santa in the elegant Imperial Ballroom.  To just call this “breakfast,” though, doesn’t do it justice.  I was able to get some beautiful shots of the holiday smorgasbord from the tiny balcony typically reserved for newlyweds, from which the laughter of families and the clink of plates blended harmoniously with the musical cheer resounding from the speakers.

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The excitement was palatable: trays and trays of delicious foods, crafts for the children, and jolly elves whipping everyone into a holiday frenzy.

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And then . . . “Can I have your attention, everyone?”  Concierge Peter Mortenson took center stage and entertained the crowd by pointing to a random breakfaster and asking, “Is that Santa Claus?”  The children, of course, yelled, “Noooooo!”  So if that wasn’t Santa, then, how could beckon him?  What else to do but to pick up a young boy, stand him on a chair, and announce that this boy had suggested singing a song.

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It worked!  In the middle of “Jingle Bells,” look who arrived!

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So, what’s a lowly Narrator to do when all the kids are sitting on Santa’s lap or making ornaments or decorating cookies? Interview the adults, of course, and ask them what they wanted from Santa.  Earlier in the week, I had gotten a glimpse of what of what kids at the tree lighting celebration had asked Santa for–electronics, toys, puppies, baby sisters, and the occasional selfless Milkbones for their current pets:
screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-9-11-54-amscreen-shot-2016-12-06-at-9-10-27-amscreen-shot-2016-12-06-at-9-11-30-amscreen-shot-2016-12-06-at-9-11-38-amBut this morning, I thought I’d talk to the people who would actually be trying to fulfill these children’s wishes for toys and siblings (by writing to Santa, of course, because that’s where all the toys and, er, children are made, right?).  Their responses didn’t surprise me, but they definitely weren’t all “I wish for world peace” beauty pageant types of responses.  Instead, they were down-to-earth, in-the-moment, and heartfelt.  Some wished for tangible things (some fantasies, others practical).  And some wishes were even a little fraught with anxiety about failing health and imminent births. Here is your Breakfast With Santa (Adult Version)screen-shot-2016-12-06-at-8-51-34-am

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May all of your wishes–whether you are young or old–come true in the new year!  Ho Ho Ho!

You can visit Santa this Saturday, December 10, and Saturday, December 17, from 9:30am-11:30am, in the Imperial Ballroom on the 7th floor.  Tickets are $45 for adults, $20 for children 3-10 years, and free for children 2 and younger.  Call 877-704-5340 or 414-935-5950 to reserve your spot!  

Sunshine Face and Straight Shooter Have Eggs with Santa

There is nothing like a good old fashioned grown-adult-helpers-dressed-like-elves-everything-dipped-in whipped cream-frosting-and-sprinkles Breakfast with Santa to remind an old fella like me that Christmas is for the kiddos.

This past weekend at the Pfister, the granddaddy of all the Santa breakfasts began its three-weekend run. This was cause for joyful jubilation for me because I realized that in all my years of believing in the man in the red suit with the jelly bowl tummy, I’ve never shared eggs and bacon with him. They say you never forget your first, and I surely won’t soon get this glorious affair out of my memories.

The adorable factor was dialed up to the rarely seen SUPER CUTE setting as kids decked out in their best Christmas do dads sipped hot cocoa between bites of fruit salad and toast. They had come to speak to the big guy and his best gal, Mrs. Claus, and the perfect training meal for that big moment is clearly capped off by a gingerbread cookie slathered with frosting a couple of inches thick.

I’m convinced that a room full of smiling children has the potential to change the world. Or, at least, gently melt many a cold, cold heart. From the high pitched group Christmas Carol sing-a-long lead by Chief Concierge Peter Mortenson to the little fists writing notes on the letterhead all primed for Santa, the good girls and boys who had come to spend the morning dreaming about what they might see under their tree on December 25th were cherubic as all get out.

I’m not trafficking new territory when I say kids are great. The ways in which they are great are numerous, of course, but I had delightful encounters with two lasses who showed off two of my favorite kid types that I like to call Sunshine Face and Straight Shooter.

Sunshine Face is that remarkable ability kids have to wring the most out of a good feeling. Sure, kids have rough patches, and maybe you could call those Cloudy Puss days, but Sunshine Face makes my heart skip a few beats when I’m lucky enough to see it in action. I’ll go on record to say that watching kids shoot beams of joy from their eyes as they’re on the edge of exploding from fun rather than being all adulty and cool about feeling good should be prescribed as an antidepressant by big pharma and stat.

Trinity had one of the most devastating cases of Sunshine Face I have ever seen. I’m pretty sure her brother Trent did, too, but when I tried to draw him into a conversation he was laser focused on scraping all of the frosting off of a cookie and into his mouth. And who among us can blame that brilliant kid?

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Trinity, on the other hand, was daintily eating a cookie at a table shared by her brother, mom, Jessica, and grandma, Adele. She had on a lovely head wrap that was festively appointed with a pair of reindeer antlers.

“Are you part reindeer?” I asked.

Trinity giggled as she snapped back, “No! Those are just my ears.” Just her ears? Surely she meant, “Just the cutest reindeer ears ever to frame a Sunshine Face.”

I asked the question on everyone’s mind who had come to bow at the alter of S.C. “What are you going to ask Santa for this year, Trinity”

Shopkins!” screamed Trinity. “I want Santa to bring me Skopkins!” Not spending a lot of time in the toy aisles these days, I had never heard of Shopkins and asked Trinity what they were. Asking someone with Sunshine Face to describe their favorite toy is something of a fatal error to make if you’re looking for a short answer. The only thing to do when you jump off that cliff is to hold on to your Sunshine Face friend as they spiral down the rabbit hole to tell you the completely detailed history of their Christmas wish. For those of you who, like me, were unaware of what Skopkins were, I now know from Trinity that they are small pieces of food that you don’t really eat but are super cute and the absolutely coolest best thing ever that there ever was for all time now and forever. Or something like that.

I am quite certain that Trinity is a very good girl and will undoubtedly receive the Shopkins she requested for herself and her brother Trent, he of the steely frosting focus. You don’t hold onto Sunshine Face as long as she did unless you’re polite, and kind, and clean up your room when your mom asks.

Sunshine Face had me feeling like I had just drank a bathtub full of eggnog and followed it with a victory in a candy cane eating contest. It’s a good feeling, for sure, but I’m a man of moderation so I really appreciated Straight Shooter giving me balance.

Lili, her sister Emma, mom Erika, and dad Sean were tucked in a corner smiling the smile of satisfied breakfast bellies, all framed with the glow of sunshine pouring in through nearby windows. A smarter more fashionable family would have been harder to imagine. I have to believe their holiday photos are spectacular…or simply so dazzling that I would be forever jealous.

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Emma, a bright teen, was clearly being delightfully tolerant of the whole Santa who ha for her sister’s sake, though I marked her as a true believer if ever I’ve seen one. I turned to Lili to learn her thoughts about the day at hand and the holiday as a whole.

“What’s your favorite part about Christmas?” I asked.

Spoken clearly with the confidence that belied her single digit age, the young Straight Shooter laid it out plan.

“I like giving more than getting.”

I liked this kid right away. No messing around. I asked her if she had gotten presents for her family and she nodded that she had. I wondered if she would share that info with me and she summoned me close to whisper into my ear so that she could hold onto the secret of the gifts she would soon be giving. I’m not spilling the beans, but let’s just say, she’s an excellent shopper.

As Lili and I were chatting, Santa and Mrs. Claus made their big entrance into the room. There was a noticeable lift to the energy in the room, but Lili herself seemed a bit nonplussed by all the hoopla. I asked her what she thought about visiting with Santa. Her answer defined what I adore about Straight Shooters everywhere.

“I mean I don’t know Santa, so it’s really just like sitting on a stranger’s lap.”

The world needs an equal share of Sunshine Faces and Straight Shooters, for sure. That and plenty of friendly jolly old elves who are happy to listen to your holiday hopes after some tasty scrambled eggs.

Follow me on Twitter @jonathantwest for more smart remarks and snappy retorts.