On the second weekend of every December, this lakeside village becomes home to an extended family that has been gathering in Meredith for nearly 30 years and began staying at The Inn at Mill Falls the very first year the doors opened. Since then, the extended Hinchey/Smith/Burbine family has continued to meet at the Inns for their annual Christmas get-together, marking 25 years this December. They say they wouldn’t think of doing it any other way.
When Laura Hinchey moved to Meredith from Rhode Island in the early 1980s, she became the catalyst for the family’s regular treks to the New Hampshire Lakes Region. In the beginning, the group was small enough to stay at Laura’s home, but every year, the party got “bigger and bigger and bigger,” so when the first Mill Falls Inn opened in 1985, they booked some rooms there.
Most of the sisters, cousins, uncles, grandparents, nieces, and grandchildren travel from Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Laura’s home state of Rhode Island, and the group now varies in size from about 45 to about 55 family members each year. Of course, some years there are new babies, and sometimes others can’t make it. “My grandmother came for years and years,” says Laura. “We lost her two years ago at the age of 102, but she did make it for her 100th birthday. We have quite an age spread as well. This year, the youngest one here was my great niece, her name is Sophie, and she’s just 2 months, and the oldest was my mother, who celebrated her 75th birthday that weekend.”