If I could save time in a bottle

I’d be packaging up a day in my life 2 years ago today and I’d give it to you with a big bow on it. In it you would find the joy of being a wife and a mother so intense that you could taste it. You would find relaxation and good food. You would find awe of Father and the good gifts He gives to His children. In it you’d find what I wish I could give to every woman I know…..

Two years ago today, Jeff and I were on our way to a bed and breakfast get away. My nephew had offered to watch the kids, as a gift to us for Christmas and the only time he could do it was at this time..right before the rush of Christmas day, itself.

We arrived at this lovely Victorian home, to find we were the only ones there. I don’t mean the only guests, although we were, but rather the only people in the house anywhere. (We knew this would be the case – they were at their Christmas party and had given us the security code, in order to get in. We had been guests before, so they knew us.)

Even though the house was empty the Christmas lights were on, filling each nook and cranny of this massive (11,000 sq feet) house with the shimmer of magic that Christmas lights are so good at. The gas fireplaces were all going (3 on the main floor – and one in our room upstairs.)

In front of the fireplace in our room was a small table and the start of a jigsaw puzzle. There was, sitting on the loveseat, that was also in our room in front of the fireplace, a shiny tray, complete with a carafe of coffee, a carafe of home made cocoa, shiny white mugs and some cookies – they were still warm. Downstairs in the parlor, there was freshly popped popcorn and some apple slices (dipped in pineapple juice) and throughout the entire house an unobtrusive blend of holiday jazz music was playing.

There was a note sitting on our pillows, it read, “Dear Clarks, we’re so happy to have you back again. I’m sorry we’re not here to greet you, but be rest assured we went to the same amount of trouble we would have, if we were. We have unlocked all the rooms for you – what could be more fun than to explore an old Victorian house, all by yourselves? We will be home around 9, please feel free to help yourself to anything in the frig in the pub area and there are more cookies in the kitchen and another carafe of cocoa in there as well. Have a lovely time, Sincerely, Anna P.S. I put a special holiday blend of bath salts by the jacuzzi – if you open the shades and turn out the lights, except the fire, you could soak in the tub and watch the snow fall and fire crackle. Enjoy!”

After a quick exploration (and a planning of which room to stay in next) we wandered back to our room, where we sampled the cookies and sipped some coffee while tinkering with the jigsaw puzzle. We then snuggled on the loveseat and dreamed of Christmases past and future – of how quickly our children have grown and how soon they will be bringing their own Littles home for Christmas. We shared the hopes and dreams we had for our future. We stayed by the fire for hours, talking, uninterrupted, watching the big fat lake effect snow flakes fall…..until our eyelids fell, as well.

The next morning, we were awoken by a tiny sound outside our door – where we found a “good morning” note and 2 slices of warm coffee cake with whipped cream, some fruit and a carafe of fresh coffee. We sat in bed eating, getting crumbs everywhere. (Is this even legal in all 50 states?) We shared devotions and began the day with a walk toward the beach, in the snow. (We were near Lake MI) As we walked, we held hands, snuggled close and talked quietly.

When we returned, the house smelled of hot food and our breakfast table was set, with gleaming dishes and fresh orange slices – all perky and welcoming, between the Christmas tree and the fireplace in the sun room – which faces the harbor and park. As we sat down, the snow increased and we watched cotton balls falling from the sky onto the dark pine trees. No one asked to be excused to go to the bathroom, no one spilled anything. No one burped or poked someone else. No one interrupted us. We didn’t have to fill our own coffee or water. Our food was hot and delicious. It was like a fairy tale meal.

While the snow fell, we packed to return home. Our sneak-away night was over. It had been delightful. I couldn’t wait until next year. We had decided this needed to be an annual event. With our anniversary in December, it seemed like the perfect time to get away, anyway. (Little did we know that the Lord had a new Little Clark who would significantly interfere with that plan) The staff waved good-bye, plying us with extra muffins and cookies – and hugs dipped in holiday wishes. It had been a stellar night away.

Driving home, the snow continued – we watched it swirl at the side of the road. We shared a cup of Starbucks and talked some more (can parents of small children EVER get enough talking in when they are away alone?) listening to Stan Getz on the stereo. We called ahead to let the crew know that we were moments away. As we pulled in, all 6 kiddos came running out to greet us. The noise was overwhelming after such quiet. What a surprise! 🙄 Each Clark kiddo had a special story to tell and cousin Tym was making everyone laugh and giggle as well. It was chaotic, the house was a mess and it was everything that our time away was not. It was good to be home.

~ Dawn, who is praying that Father would remind you of the goodness of home, as well

9 Responses to “If I could save time in a bottle”
  1. Dawn – How is it that you always right just exactly what I need to read? I don’t just mean once in awhile – nearly every day I read something you’ve written and just feel like you’ve written it for me. It couldn’t be anything other than the Father working through you and I am so so grateful to Him for you and so grateful to you for your willingness to be used by Him. I can’t begin to tell you what this means to me today. Casey and I need just this kind of refreshment and just this kind of reminder. I love you, girl!

  2. whimsy says:

    I literally soaked up those words. It was like getting away for a few minutes.

    Thanks for such a precious gift.

  3. valerie says:

    Wow. Wow. I LOVED this post – it made me dreamy and nostalgic and wistful all at the same time, thank you Dawn. By the way – if we ever make it to the states, I WANT to stay at that place – it sounds amazing!

    love, Valerie

  4. MicheleinNZ says:

    I can see it all in my mind. It’s like I was there and enjoying the hot chocolate myself. I’ve been not-so-gently nudging my husband for a weekend away before the baby is born and I’d be happy if it was half that good! Hopefully the memories will get you through the next few days. Why don’t you make some nice hot chocolate and bring it up to Jeff tonight before bed?

  5. mrsb says:

    Reading this was like a mini-vacation. I think I’ll read it twice! Seriously, I’d love to know the name of this B&B. You’ve really made me want to take my husband there. Where is it? Thanks, Martha

  6. javadawn says:

    Oh Ladies, I wish I could tell you it’s still the same place – the staff there was just amazing. They did SO much to make you feel like royalty. We called to see if we could get in when we first found out we were expecting and one of the ladies we loved best answered. She sounded really strained. When I asked if she was ok, she indicated that the inn had been sold. I asked her if we ought to find some where else to stay and she said, “Oh, I’m sorry, we’re full that weekend.” I got her hint right away – I told her how sorry I was and made arrangements to go elsewhere. (Which didn’t even remotely compare!!)

    I will happily give you the name, but I do so with fear and trepidation that it might not be nearly the delight that it was for us that precious day. I’ll get you a link – it is in South Haven, MI. (There are a few others there, as well, that we’ve heard wonderful reports about, but never been to…gee, if I was a good blog host, I’d do that for you all, huh? I’d just commit to checking out all the romantic B&B’s in the area.) 😉 😀

  7. Christina says:

    We did this the last 2 years as well, after you suggested it and did not do it this year. I have seen a huge difference. I am crabbier and more stressed. So now I can work on realigning my attitute and being content with what I do have done. But just taking that time to regroup makes a difference. I didn’t realize it until I read this and thought oh we didn’t do this this year.

  8. javadawn says:

    I know – Jeff read this and came into the room where I was working, stood in the doorway and said, “How much do you like this house?” I said, “Um, this sounds like a loaded question – what gives?” “After reading your blog, I’m ready to skip the house payment and go up to South Haven…for a week.” 😀

    I’m not kidding, if I could, I’d wrap up a quiet get together – B&B, motel, hotel, cabin, RV, it matters not care which! – for hubby and wife a few days before Christmas for EVERY woman I know! It was simply exquisite.

  9. winkies6 says:

    Hey! My cousin rents out a house/cottage in South Haven! 🙂 She also has a B&B out of her house in a quieter in-land town.

    A break for husband and wife around Christmastime…. That would be so weird for us, since this is such a busy time for him at work. It’s an awesome idea tho! 🙂

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