As I reflect on 2014 and look at what I have learned through opening the Swamp Rabbit Inn in downtown Greenville SC, one major theme rises to the top for me – the importance of gathering and what it means to us as human beings.
Back in November of 2000 my family and I had just completed building a lake house in Illinois. I come from a family of six children and like most modern families we were scattered all over the country and even the world. I had a real longing to be with my whole family for Thanksgiving that year so I extended the invitation to everyone to gather at the lake house.
I had two children at the time a 7 year old daughter and a brand new baby girl. The nearest grocery store was 15 miles from the lake house and everyone was going to stay for at least three days. I don’t know how we did it but somehow we had a delicious Thanksgiving feast and many more great meals and built memories that will last a lifetime. There were about 10 of us that first year and we had so much fun we decided to do it again the next Thanksgiving.
Each year our group grew. My nieces and nephews, sister-in-laws, new significant others, parents and dear friends would gather. We moved from Chicago to Greenville SC in 2005 and the group followed us South that Thanksgiving to our new 10 acre hobby farm. Fast forward to 2014 and this past Thanksgiving we gathered at the Swamp Rabbit Inn. Although our group was not as large this year, as nieces and nephews have grown and married, we all talked on the phone or video chatted and it still felt like we were connected that day in spirit as a family.
Gathering at Thanksgiving for my family has been the tie that binds us, makes us feel connected, a part of something meaningful as a family. I have watched my nieces and nephews grow up into wonderful, responsible young adults and love how they all stay in touch through out the year. It has been very important for all of us to gather at least once a year.
Opening the Swamp Rabbit Inn this year, I have witnessed first hand how important gathering is to other families and groups of friends, co-workers. Taking time away from your day to day setting to spend quality time, face-to-face with other human beings doing new things, playing games, brainstorming, exploring a new city, cooking, sitting around a camp fire is exhilarating and intimate. It is the ultimate personal experience to share a space with others from the time you wake up to the time you rest your head at night. You come away with a deeper understanding and connection with your co-inhabitants if just for a night, a weekend or a week.
I love to hear the stories and traditions from our guests as they come together. Some gatherings are sad, some are ritualistic, some are celebrations, some are collaborations, some are teams or athletic endeavors. Whatever brings people in I am proud to provide them space to gather. We would be honored to host your gatherings in the upcoming year!Wendy Lynam
Owner, Swamp Rabbit Inn
Tell us your gathering stories! Please share in the comments below.