Beginning the Friday after Thanksgiving, we’ve had many families stay at The Buttonwood Inn for five weekends, ending just before Christmas. Bill and I had so much fun observing the delight in the children’s faces as they expressed that they were going on the Polar Express to visit the big guy in red, Santa! One family, in particular, kept it as a surprise until the children dressed in their pajamas as they headed out the door to the train station beginning their magical journey to the North Pole.
The Christmas lights and decorations beckon the families who merrily enter our check-in area where their eyes are drawn to dozens of ornaments hanging in the window and the twin polar bear cubs staring outside. Bill proceeds with a tour of the inn first to the Mount Surprise Room where the Polar Express movie is playing on the big screen TV. The families pass by the small lighted Christmas tree with wooden ornaments, fireplace mantle displaying lights and holiday figures, and a New England village display. The cupboards are packed with games and books for all ages, including many other holiday movies.
In our Dining Room, the children immediately ask to take one of the mini cupcakes decorated in colored frosting with sprinkles that I baked for the afternoon tea and hot chocolate service. The mothers usually notice the many whimsical Christmas ornaments watching everyone from their perches on the windows and window sills.
The Living Room has a large Christmas tree decorated with ceramic ornaments that I painted when our children were babies. There are whimsical mice, a children’s nativity creche, and Sesame Street characters. Does anyone remember Strawberry Shortcake? That was a favorite of our 30+ daughter, Alexandra. Our son, Tom’s, favorite was Oscar the Grouch. Three decades ago seems like yesterday when you recall the fond memories of raising your children.
After breakfast on Saturday mornings, I bake and decorate the sugar cookies of holly leaves, candy canes, and snow flakes for the children to eat either before or after the Polar Express train adventure. I pipe various colored icings on each cookie sprinkled with a variety of crystallized sugars and holiday-inspired sprinkles. I also make the “big kid” Triple Chocolate cookies that their parents and grandparents cannot resist.
While we serve our guests a savory gourmet breakfast, I also make Buttermilk Pancakes with or without chocolate chips for the children. Sunday morning breakfast consists of fresh fruit salad followed by Yeasted Belgian Waffles with warm award-winning Maple Syrup from Fullers Sugarhouse and thick-sliced bacon. For the very young children with smaller appetities, I plate half of the waffle as angel wings dusted with powdered sugar topped with a butter flower. When Bill serves breakfast to the families, he derives real pleasure from seeing the children sitting at the tables and asks them about their experience seeing Santa the previous evening.
When it’s time for the families to depart, we often bring our two dogs, Britt and Clyde, outside to meet them. Some children have been reluctant to leave which tickles us pink. So Bill usually gets a parting photo of them with the dogs and we give them a hug goodbye.
Here’s what one family wrote in our guest room booklet:
“Thank you so much for your wonderful hospitality. We had a magical Polar Express experience. The inn is so charming and the room worked amazingly well for our family of five. The food was delicious and I loved all the homey touches such as water pitchers in the room and tea and cookies in the evening. We hope to be back next Year!” – North Reading, MA
We are now accepting reservations for the 2013 Pola Express. If you are interested in reserving your families' magical adventure, please call us at 1-800-258-2625.