This weekend is my mom’s Creative Memories scrapbooking retreat. It’s the first time in ten years that I haven’t been there.
I can see them all clearly, in my mind’s eye. Twenty or thirty ladies, pictures and colored paper and photo album pages spread on every bit of table space, in that retreat center cozily nestled high in the mountains, surrounded by fir trees. Aunt Marcy and Aunt Terri are there, along with my cousins Abbie and LeAnn, and my little sister Jessica. Tracie’s in the corner, making everyone lattes or mochas. Mom is trying to work on her pictures, while helping everyone else at the same time. Kathy and Dawn are another mother-daughter pair. A couple years we even had three generations, but I’m not sure if Georgia and her daughters are there this year. Of course, any man walking onto the premises late at night might wonder if more talking or scrapbooking happens there. But we’d reassure him that both are important, and both happen.
That first year, there were such wind storms that the power went out, and we scrapbooked by candlelight. Many Januarys we sat and watched the snow fall down outside, as we scrapbooked cozily inside (like the picture at left from 2001). And every year, I was showing off pictures of this handsome guy I knew…
Soon, memories of Merritt began to be associated with every retreat. Right before the retreat in 2001, I wrote my Mom a letter saying, “I’m in love. I’ve found the man I want to marry.”On January 22, 2004, right before Mom and I left for the retreat, Merritt finally told me the words I’d been longing to hear: “I do love you, very much.” I spent more of that weekend writing in my journal than I did scrapbooking! The next year found Merritt and me praying hard about him talking to my dad about a courtship. Once again, my prayer journals show a lot of journaling from the weekend of the retreat. And a month later, on February 23, 2005, Daddy said yes!
Last year was the first year my little sister Jessica joined us at the retreat, which was fitting as I knew it would probably be my last year. Merritt and I knew we wanted to get married soon, and were asking God to lead the way. I got our courtship album all caught up…hoping against hope that the next pictures of Merritt and I that I put in albums would show a diamond ring on my finger.
February 14, 2006, we were engaged. And I have yet to put those pictures in a photo album! But I’ve set up a card table in our living room, and hope to find time in these winter months for my own little scrapbooking retreat—with my husband nearby to cheer me on.
Yes, I miss all the dear ladies I know are at Mom’s retreat this year. But I wouldn’t have traded this cozy weekend enjoying the sunshine and snow…and cleaning out the greenhouse, putting away our Christmas decorations, and celebrating our eight-month anniversary with my husband. Maybe when I’m an old married lady and have a half-dozen children I need a break from, I’ll go join them at a scrapbooking retreat once again. But I’d make sure Merritt came up on Saturday to enjoy a famous Cascade Cinnamon Roll…just so I could steal a kiss or two from the man whose pictures I will always love to scrapbook…