Some weathercasters described the Christmas Eve blizzard as “the storm of the century,” a “bomb cyclone” that struck Ogdensburg, southern Canada, and the Northeastern U.S. with gale force winds and massive snowfalls that left vast swaths of the region paralyzed.
At the Sherman Inn, our phone began ringing as everyone who had reserved a room canceled because their flights had been canceled or they had decided not to risk their lives in the whiteouts that had made driving a near-death experience for many who dared to travel the roads despite the warnings of forecasters and the national weather service.
But, as the day wore on, the phone began ringing as stranded travelers called, looking for a place to stay as they discovered roads closed and white-out conditions that made Christmas Eve traveling a dangerous time for families on their way home.
Donna, of course, welcomed them with open arms. They had never before heard of Ogdensburg or the Sherman Inn, but they were quickly impressed by the size of the rooms, the luxurious furnishings, and the historical themes that have set us apart from other upstate lodging places.
But most of all, they discovered what so many families have found when they stay with us. They came as strangers but found themselves treated as part of our extended family.
Donna decided we should cancel our own plans, dinner with friends, and instead do what we could to make Christmas Eve a special time for our stranded guests. She quickly whipped up an evening soiree with a wide variety of hors d’oeuvres and other snacks. We invited all of our guests to join us in the Sherman Inn’s legendary parlor where everyone soon discovered that special quality that has made so many of our guests describe their stays with us as “magical.”
Within a short time, our guests were sitting around in a circle in the parlor trading stories and telling each other about their lives, Christmas memories and enjoying each other's company like old friends.
Some described the evening as a “Hallmark Movie” come to life and their stranded family’s “Christmas Miracle.”
After they went to bed, Donna got things ready for a special Christmas breakfast.
On Christmas morning, Donna and I got up early and slipped out to see four of our grandchildren just a block and a half away to watch them unwrap their presents. Then we made it back to the Inn well before the appointed time and Donna whipped up a special morning feast for 17.
Donna and I were very pleased that we could provide our stranded travelers with more than just “shelter from the storm,” but also with a holiday celebration worth remembering. Several told us that while they would have preferred to make it home for the holidays, if they had to be stranded anywhere, they were glad that they found themselves with us because we had made it a special Christmas Eve they would not soon forget.
A few days later, the Watertown-Syracuse TV station called us. They had heard about our Sherman Inn Christmas.