Heavy sigh… The holidays are over. Christmas and New Years have come and gone, and we have started another year, 2012. Our visit with my in-laws was another one we will cherish. I love watching them interact with my family. My husband actually enjoys the tasks on his “honey-do” list when he has the company of his dad to visit with in the process…almost doesn’t seem like work then (I did say “almost!”) My boys love playing games with their grandfather…it’s a time when win or lose doesn’t matter nearly so much as the attention and the time together. My youngest son enjoys writing notes to his grandfather and drawing pictures for his grandmother. And they are always deeply saddened when it is time to say goodbye, especially when they don’t know when they will see them again. Somehow it makes the miles between us seem greater without that future gathering to anticipate.

Yesterday when I arrived home from work my husband was puttering around the house while my father-in-law was concentrating intensely on something he was writing at the breakfast table. I heard him mention a few minutes later that he was working on his “blog” (I’m always first amazed and then secondly, proud, that he is so current with his technical knowledge and up to date with social media!) He was actually composing his note for our guest book that we keep in the guest bedroom for all who stay there to share their thoughts of the visit. I found myself getting excited, as I always do, in anticipation of reading his thoughts about their stay. One might think that it’s out of a desire to be commended about the amenities (e.g. chocolate peppermint cookies with the chocolate drizzle, ebelskeivers for breakfast, the butler who greets them at the door (our shetland sheepdog) etc.) or being such good hosts (e.g. creating that “homey” feel for them when we remind them a bit of the comforts of home by letting them pour their own cereal or help with the dishes after the meal). But really, I’ve come to realize that it isn’t that at all that fuels my feeling of joy in reading their written thoughts in the guest book. It’s the anticipation of being allowed to share in their memory of a time spent together, a time that will be forever gone and never to be repeated except in the images conjured in our memory when review their thoughts about what struck them as important or interesting or encouraging about their visit.

As I realized that, I started to find my gratitude increasing for the wonderful gift God gave us when He created us capable of forming memories. In pondering what a remarkable gift that is, I recalled a slip of paper that I repeatedly come upon unexpectedly that my mother had written on. That in itself makes me smile, since my mother is no longer physically with us, I’m grateful for my memories of her. This is a tiny torn scrap of paper perhaps two inches high by five inches wide with her writing scrawled on it. I don’t recall when she wrote it or why, but it was important enough to me when I received it that I have kept it for over a decade. On that slip of paper was written the quote, “God gives us memories so that we may have roses in winter.” Just seeing her writing gives me a rose, and makes me smile as I remember times shared together. Just like when I read the thoughts contained by prior guests in our guestbook. Each one another special rose that together make a fragrant bouquet for those winter seasons in our lives.

So next time you visit us, or anyone who happens to have a guest book, I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to share of yourself…it’s a small, free way of sending someone a rose in winter.