Christmas Traditions at the Iris Inn

The weather is decidedly cooler, Waynesboro has put up twinkling snowflakes along Main Street, and we are prepared for Christmas. When fall withers to winter, inviting a crisp wind to sweep the Shenandoah, it’s time to light the fire in the Great Room. It illuminates the expansive room, bringing a warmth to the hearth and many a rose to many a cheek, while guests enjoy a leisurely breakfast. That’s when we decorate for Christmas. Garland is wrapped around banisters, the mantle is decked, twinkle lights are carefully arranged around miniature Christmas villages, and a singing tree adorns the front porch. And smack-dab in the center of Great Room, we erect a giant Christmas Tree. Seriously, it’s huge. Tatiana, one of our staff members, courageously makes the trek up the giant ladder to decorate the giant Christmas tree with ornaments. She leans blithely around its branches to place a bobble here, a poinsettia bloom there, while the innkeepers collectively hold their breath and pray she doesn’t fall. She never does. We always worry. It’s a yearly tradition. Once the Yuletide decorations are set up, it’s time for another tradition: the Staff Christmas Party. Each year the entire staff—kitchen, desk staff, and housekeeping—and their families are treated to a private Christmas event, complete with dinner and present swap. It’s a festive occasion to praise each other for a year well done, and share gratitude. And like every household, we’re paid a very special visit by a very special guest! Santa joins us every year for the staff Christmas party, bearing a particular resemblance to one Dave Lanford. This year, he sends a video message to the Lanford’s grandkids: Merry Christmas, from all of us at the Iris Inn!