George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo, Spruce Point Inn, Booth Bay Harbor, Maine, Hotel

Take a cup of kindness

George Saunders has won the highly esteemed Man Booker Prize for his novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. In an interview with Charlie Rose the other day, the conversation turned to Saunders’ core philosophy, centered on the importance of kindness. Apparently his commencement speech on the theme to the 2013 graduates of Syracuse University is still a viral phenomenon.

It seems like a useful consideration as Thanksgiving approaches and we think of all the families we’ve welcomed to Spruce Point Inn over the past seasons.

So many families choose Spruce Point for their reunions, built perhaps on ‘oceanside memories’ made at a wedding here or the recommendations of friends.

From what we’ve observed, the charm of Spruce Point lies in our options for finding one’s one path – 56 acres – and a rich variety of things to do, on land and sea.  Everyone has his or her own space. But at the same time, families do gather together while they’re here, and raise a glass or two to the bonds of their friendship (sometimes newly discovered). Perhaps because of the setting everyone seems willing to get along. And the memory books are full of images that seem to draw people back to Boothbay, down Grand Avenue and through our door.

If that’s not true, it’s a perception worth exploring as we move into a season of such family gatherings.  Like George Saunders, we think the core is kindness. Instead of insisting on their own ways of doing things and points of view, these families accommodate. They follow the example of their hosts. They learn from and teach each other. Perhaps it’s the view of sky and ocean that helps them look up and out. Or it’s being in the moment, recognizing the chance for a memory might slip away, leaving no footprints on our minds.

Robert Burns understood it well when he wrote of “Old Lang Syne” (which translates to ‘times gone by.”) We think the song should become the new Thanksgiving tradition instead of just at New Year’s.

Actually reading the lyrics, it seems meant for this. And us:

We two have paddled in the stream,
from morning sun till dine;
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.

Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
and old lang syne?

For auld lang syne, my dear,
for auld lang syne,
we’ll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.