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                 Lainey and I made a hasty trip to Knoxville last week for the birth of our 6th grandchild and first grandson.  Hudson Scott White joined our growing family on Tuesday evening, January 14.  Mom Alli, Dad John Thomas (JT), and baby are all fine.  Lainey and I are just thrilled. 

            We have come a long way since that evening in 1982 when I nervously proposed to Lainey under trees at Hendersonville Country Club.  We have three sons, Andrew, Steven, and John Thomas who married three extraordinary ladies, Jeanette, Sarah, and Alli.  We now beam with pride over our 6 grandchildren, Madelyn, Nora, Clara, Anna Lewis, Olivia, and now Hudson.  We are so blessed.

            We visit each individual family whenever we can, but we always gather at least once a year, either at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  This year, it was at Christmas and our table of 14 was filled with laughter, joy, and love.  Lainey’s dad, John, was there too, which meant we had 4 generations all together.  It was a special time.

            Several years ago, we planned a reunion for my family.  We needed to get together and chose a special occasion. Both my parents are deceased, but we decided to celebrate what would have been their 100th birthday (they were born within weeks of each other in 1916).  Most of the family made it and many brought old photos and memorabilia.  We had an ancestry chart which took us back several generations.  We wanted our children and their children to know the history of the family and their heritage.

            While we were planning , I came across a magazine article about family reunions.  One of the topics discussed was the decline in family gatherings.  The article pointed out that some considered technology was replacing the need for get togethers.  The authors suggested that folks can obtain any information about their family with an ancestry App.  FaceBook, Instagam, photo sharing, and face time can provide all the access necessary. But I’m old fashioned and have to believe those programs, as convenient and helpful as they are, can never replace getting together, sharing a quiet conversation, laughter around a table, and most importantly, a hug.

            Being a member of a family keeps us connected and grounded that no remote device can provide.

            Hemlock Inn is a family business, operated by our family for 50 years.  Our meals are served family style, which means they are communal meals around large round lazy susan tables.  The table is filled with home cooked food evoking memories of grandmother’s house. Some call it comfort food.  Experts tell us that the mealtime is the primary time family members communicate. Our tables provide that time not only for families, but also friends, old and new.

Family Reunions are also a big part of our operation.  Every year, we host numerous reunions of all sizes.  For some, it is a yearly tradition and we love hosting them.  In fact, we look forward to them. Catching up with our Hemlock families is fun. And it goes both ways as we share our stories as well. 

            It’s all about relationships.  With us, it’s more personal relationships than business.  We eagerly share stories, news of graduations, marriages, births, children’s achievements, retirements, and even passings. 

            Many years ago, one of our boys came into the house after playing with some of the kids staying here. He asked Lainey, “Are they our cousins?” We get to know guest so well, that it became confusing to him.  But in reality, you are part of our family. We have a bond deeper than just innkeeper/guest.  We love to see you arrive and hate it when you leave. 

            We open April 22. We hope to see you. Bring your family. We’ll be around to show you pictures of Hudson….and Olivia….and Anna Lewis….and Clara…and well you get the point.  We are proud grandparents after all