It is the time of year in our house when the guests just keep on coming!!! Our neighbors dogs have finally stopped barking at all the different visitors at our gate – really it is just another guest to them. To us it is another opportunity to welcome folk into our home and we love it. But we need to remember that just because it is Christmas time doesn’t mean that folk suddenly are filled with joy and their daily aches and pains have drifted away. The best we can really do is provide a restful haven wether it is for a couple of minutes or a couple of hours. Christmas is the time for extreme feelings and many folk who are “just dropping by” are experiencing them. It is our prayer that folk visiting our home will find it a haven where they really can rest and put their feet up and little shelter from the world out there.
I have written about being called to hospitality before, it is not my natural bent but it is something we practice as a family. While I am not the supreme hostess, we live and visitors pass through, I have found that the more we practice it the easier it gets for all of us. Most often spending time with guests from all walks of life have enriched our lives beyond comprehension. Our hope is that folk who are feeling burdened when they visit will be able to leave with a lighter load rather than be totally overwhelmed by eight young children bouncing off the walls…
I think that when we imagine hospitality we often think that our home has to be in perfect shape and magnificent meals prepared and the children quietly out of the way… but to be honest life isn’t like that and hopefully by tripping through the days in our lives our visitors can regain a little joy. While I am writing I am thinking perhaps I should write a post on hospitality with small kids… but this is not that post!!! This post is more about having the time for your guests and helping them to feel relaxed and being an ear for them to share their troubles. Often folk don’t even want to talk they just want to be in a place where they can be cared for…
For many folk Christmas and the holidays are simply a difficult time of year for all sorts of reasons and by acknowledging folks pain we often open the door for them to experience a hour or two of respite from their problems.
- Some Folk are Just Tired:
- Financial Stress:
- Grief creeps up on us:
- Extended Family Fun:
- Not to mention Family Feuds:
- Sometimes folks just need to talk:
- Just Drop the Schedule:
- When Someone Just Needs to Retreat:
It has always been a long year and Christmas is often the first break people get all year. Now the media portrays Christmas as this insanely busy time with a million things to do… and while you are so busy doing so very much you must remember to be happy, happy, happy. Truth be told when people are exhausted from doing far more than is necessary, they can feel really dreadful. Make sure your home is a place where folk can come and relax… remember if your home is too perfect it is unlikely that they will want to kick there shoes off and have a nap on the couch!!!
Everyone knows that folk are struggling financially, there has been a world wide recession for years, but still Christmas time brings out the crazy in people. Don’t be conned into comparative studies, just because a magazine tells you the most popular gifts this year are DSLR cameras, for example, doesn’t mean you have to break your budget buying them for your entire extended family!!! Hot on the heals of Christmas comes the long month of January. I don’t know anyone who would want an expensive gift from a friend only to discover that that friend had broken their budget for it. If you have friends who know are coming up short then you don’t have to give them a loan but there are easy things that you can do to help them out without imposing: invite them for a meal and treat them, they probably haven’t been out in a long time. I am sure these friends would prefer to be spoilt with a freezer meal for Christmas rather than that expensive camera everyone else is getting anyway.
Christmas is a very hard time for folk that are grieving and even showing up at a function is just so hard for them. Don’t pretend everything is perfect, acknowledge their pain. So often people don’t want to talk about sad events, but just acknowledging that you are sorry that their loved one isn’t there with them is enough to make them feel a bit better understood.
Everybody has a crazy family, It isn’t just your family that is totally mad. There is no such thing as a perfectly normal family!!! And Christmas time is the time of year when we are generally called to family gatherings and some of them we would rather avoid. Most of us know how to behave nicely all the time but there just is often someone that brings out the worst in us. Don’t avoid them because somehow you will trip into them everywhere. Meet greet and move on. Knowing that at some stage you will bump into somebody awkward means that you can mentally prepare what you would like to say, don’t plan a speech – trust me on this, rather a “Hello, how are you?” and have a quick escape in mind!!!
Again most organizations, including families have factions… Really Christmas seems to bring all that was settled to the forefront!!! Silly things like should the kids get one classic wooden toy or twenty plastic production line toys for Christmas can cause insane stress. In the scheme of life most of these issues aren’t important enough to warrant our attention but in the heat of the moment they can count for EVERYTHING… If you can avoid taking sides and you really can take years of stress off your life. And by avoiding gossip, no matter how tempting to partake – to be sure whatever you say on the heat of the moment will come back to you, you can, I am sure extend your life by decades!!!
Sometimes folks just drop in for a visit and you very quickly realize that they really need to talk about something, I try and make sure I have something up my sleeve to send my kids off and do so that friends can just sit at the kitchen table and chat. We’ve all been there… when things should be going better and they aren’t and we just want to talk about it.
It is one thing to have visitors drop in and when you are busy, it is quite another, if you are in a frenzy of activity then often times you have to put what you are doing aside. I have found that no one will remember if you made one more batch of cookies but they will remember if you were able to slow down and listen to them. Often times the work we were so busy doing is just that, busy-ness, and making one batch of brownies and splitting it between the neighbors is better than making a batch for everyone, especially if it means being there for a friend.
And the se7en + 1th thing:
Often times we need a break or a re-charge ourselves. Not a six week break just a day off from the hurly burly of events… Sometimes it is far wiser to take a time-out and relax away from the madding crowd and just admit you and your kids are just not up to seeing anyone. Declare a day off, treat it as such – don’t catch up on chores, don’t run errands… linger, relax and take the time-out that you need. Usually when we most need to take time out is when we feel that we least can. Somehow the more spun out we get the more important we think we are!!! When really ten years from now, in fact six months from now most people will not remember that we rang them and said we couldn’t make an event… they will all, however remember the event if we don’t cancel. Somehow when we push that final window we are inviting trouble and the wheels will fall off. It is far better for everyone, when we choose to just admit defeat and take a rest from it all!!!