Seven women from the Grand Rapids area arrived at Brigadoon early Friday afternoon with a suitcase in one hand, and several large carryon tote bags (you know, the kind with wheels because they are so full and heavy) in the other. After the suitcases were deposited in their suites, the ladies gathered in the living room to begin their intended weekend tasks. Once the furniture was arranged for maximum seating, and extra lighting was provided by a few spare lamps, the members of this coterie settled in for their first evening session. What had I unleashed in the main room at Brigadoon? Nothing less than our first "crop" – otherwise known as a group gathering for scrapbookers!
Needless to say, I was a bit concerned at first, as I looked at the tote bags full of boxes and files and stickers and papers and cutters and letters and binders and scissors and pens and … well, anything and everything that you could ever need to be an accomplished scrapbooker. This group’s leader, Ginny, was the coordinator of this weekend event and has been a prior guest at Brigadoon. At first I began to pace a bit, as I noticed more and more tiny paper cuttings appearing on the floor around the working tables … but my concerns were eased as I noted the contributions to the greater good -- almost every type of chocolate cookie and brownie were easily within reach (a solid sign that I was really going to bond with them). This dedicated group of ladies had left their husbands and parents downstate with their total of 16 children – was I overreacting to a few paper clippings?
As the scrapbooking weekend unfolded, Ginny and her friends tried to coax me into yet another new hobby – to which I told them "No thank you kindly" (Dad, you would have been proud of me). In compromise, however, they suggested that I join them with my cross-stitching – which sounded better to me than taking up another interest. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and I started back on a stitching project that I have not touched in months. It also allowed me to relax in the comfort of my home – with my new friends – and share in some unique conversation. As I stitched, I listened to these ladies talk about their families, their friends, their parents and grandparents – and share many stories that we witnessed in the pictures they were adding to their collections. Their chats turned into long hours of working into the wee hours of the night, as they documented valuable memories of the most important events in their lives. In the end, nearly 150 pages were created this weekend through their tireless work.
In a short 48 hours, I participated in some very funny and enlightening conversations with Ginny, Jackie, Liz, Melanie, Deb, Cindi, and Gisella. During that time, I learned and laughed about many wonderful things -- their families, their beloved vacations (many flattering bathing suit pics), their favorite places, their children’s birthdays & holidays (how many photos of Santa can one have?), their first loves (good stories here!), who was related to whom, and how everyone in the group came to be such good friends. Before they left on Sunday, they shared their many additions to their albums in a "show & tell" hour, and smiled brightly for my camera before receiving their awards from group leader Ginny. What they didn’t realize, however, was the greatest gift that they shared with me.
Just 2 days, and yet I shared what seemed like a lifetime of photographs and stories about some of the most special days in these women’s lives. Over lunch today, I chatted about my past vignette on my pursuit of the Hyde lineage. Talking about the impending return to their hectic daily lives with children and husbands, many reflected that their time constraints made them leave documenting the past history in their family to other relatives. At first I found this statement to be a little depressing (don’t wait until it’s too late to talk to your elders), but then I realized more. Maybe they don’t have time to document the past, but this weekend these women contributed much more by documenting the wonderful history and lineage of their beloved families and friends through the gift of scrapbooking – and these unique books will be cherished by their children, grandchildren, and generations beyond.
Thanks, ladies, for letting me share the stories and pictures that made me smile, laugh, and reflect this weekend. Thanks, too, for sharing your friendship in my home. I look forward to your return.
"The road to a friend's house is never long." -Danish proverb
Peace and friendship to you this week.
Brigadoon Bed & Breakfast