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Reminiscing Through The Pages of a Guestbook
A recent trip to a friend's cottage reminded me of the importance of capturing memories. In this case, it was through simple journaling in the pages of a guest book.
When I was a young child, my family would visit friends at their old hunting camp in Maine. You could only get there by boat so your arrival had to be coordinated through the local store as there was no phone service at the camp. This camp had been in the family for many generations and each visit promised an adventure.
As children, our days were filled with wandering around the large structure to discover great old treasures. We pumped water with an old fashioned pump to wash the dishes and oatmeal never tasted so good cooked on "Matilda", the old wood cook stove. It is where we learned to water-ski, where we swamped a boat, where we walked the rocks along the water's edge trying to be the first to spot the coveted "egg rock" (a rock that had a spot that resembled a fried egg) and where we were always sure to cover our heads because we were absolutely positive that a bat would end up tangled in our hair while we slept. As we grew older, everyone's schedules got busier and our visits became less frequent.
Now, years later, we have had the opportunity to reconnect with this family at the camp and I was able to share all of my great childhood memories with my own children. While there, I discovered an old guest book filled with entries of past friends and family members. As I sat watching the sunset on the old porch, I perused the pages of the journal. It was so enjoyable to read about other people's experiences and how this lodge touched the lives of so many over the past several decades. I even discovered notes that I had entered as a child nearly thirty years ago!
I remember how sad we would be when it came time to load our things onto the boat to leave. We'd give the traditional "Jones" wave (both arms waving largely in the air) to the dock of remaining visitors and motor away with tears in our eyes and fond memories in our hearts.
Before we left that summer, I was sure to have my kids share their favorite things about their recent visit to my favorite childhood spot. Each one had their own unique perspective of what they found to be the most fun that weekend. My children found humor at witnessing their mother shriek as a bat flew into my bedroom (I admit, I covered my head that night ... just in case). For my youngest, just being able to use the outdoor shower (a fairly new addition to the camp) was the highlight of his visit.
It struck me that everyone who has regular visitors to their vacation homes, be it a camp on a lake or a cottage by the sea or a hunting lodge, should have a guest book for their visitors to share their fondest memories. Consider it a sort of gratitude journal. You will be rewarded with the satisfaction of knowing how sharing your home with others can touch the lives of your friends and families.
*****Thoughts on guest books*****
- If you have a vacation property, absolutely have a guest book for people to sign and leave their comments.
- If at all possible, find guest books that are acid-free and provide an archival journaling pen.
- Keep your guest book clearly labeled in an acid-free box to protect it from environmental contaminants. (A decorative photo box would work great!)
- Leave a personal note with your guest book inviting your visitors to share the memories of their visit. (Suggest they send you a photograph as well.)
- When signing someone's guest book, let your thoughts just flow, don't think too much. Jot down the highlights of your visit and what you found special.
- Make sure that everyone in your party has the opportunity to share their memories. You never know what adorable things might be important to a four year old.
- Be sure to read your guest book on a regular basis and never lose sight of the importance of opening your heart and home to family and friends.