Preparing for holiday guests can be so much fun and totally exhausting all at the same time. Most of us spend hours scrubbing the house spotless, planning a perfectly well balanced menu and making sure there are brand new towels in the linen closet. This event is usually proceeded by a whirlwind of sightseeing, cooking, baking and nurturing. Then as your guests pull out of the driveway it’s like a slow exhale, right? You’re almost always sad to see them go because you’ve had such a great visit and yet you know you’ll have to walk back inside and clean the house all over again to get ready for the work week.
I think about holiday entertaining a lot given my parent’s home, Bliss Barracks, is a revolving door of guests and people dropping by for a quick visit. The thing that always amazes me is that my mom rarely seems to get rattled in the midst of the craziness. I truly believe it’s because she’s been given a heart for hospitality and her expectations are always realistic.
She knows someone will probably spill a drink on the Turkish rug my dad had shipped over for her when he was deployed. She understands someone will require specialty items like almond or soy milk instead of cow’s milk and she’ll probably have to make an extra trip to the store before the sun comes up. She also understands there is going to be a mountain of laundry especially if all of the bedrooms upstairs are being used. Even still, she continues to make every person feel special, appreciated and welcomed because she is so happy to have them in her home.
It’s the lessons of realistic expectations and heart for hospitality that have been instilled in us over the years that make hosting a big event like Thanksgiving or a smaller event like Sunday Supper seem as normal as having green eyes.
If you’re looking around your house right now thinking, “That’s awesome for you, CoCo, but my house is _________________ (feel free to fill in the blank with whatever you’re thinking right now…not Instagram worthy/not big enough/not clean enough/not in a great neighborhood/not ready at all/not like what I see in magazines/ not my style/totally embarrassing) let me assure you I can completely relate. I have had some of those same thoughts (remember when I first started blogging and this was my house) but a work day at my sister’s house totally changed my mind.
About this time two years ago, my baby sister, bought a fixer upper we loving call Hawk’s Ridge. We were all at her house painting walls, pulling up old carpeting and taking down broken door trim. I was dressed in long sleeves, overalls and work boots. And since I’m giving you a visual, you should also know I had bits of cotton in my ears, safety glasses that could have shielded a failed chemistry experiment, a respirator and a knit cap to protect my auburn curls from “flying debris.” Basically, it would have been less work to just wear a hazmat suit.
Anyway by midday, we had piled up on her screened porch waiting for lunch to be delivered. We were super gross, smelly, totally exhausted and somehow we thought it would be a great time to have a “biggest arm muscle” contest. As you can imagine some people’s “muscles” (yes, I mean that in air quotes) were as big as a tiny red potato…they were more like a shallot…just saying.
But the belly laughter that ensued with all 11 of us sitting on that small front porch dirty and sweaty from giving our best gifts to my sister’s new house while eating sandwiches from parchment paper and drinking sweet tea is a memory I’ll never forget. Had my sister waited until Hawk’s Ridge was “perfect” or “finished” or “good enough” we would have missed out on all that fun!
This season, as you prepare your house for company be it overnight guests, a gathering of your besties for drinks or hosting a feast for hundreds, I want us to spend more time thinking about how we can make our guests feel loved, welcomed, appreciated and nurtured instead of thinking about matching dishes, installing shiplap in time and whether or not the wreaths on our front door are “gram worthy.”
Our best gifts are enough.
Our homes are enough.
We are enough.
Of course, we are going to make our homes as cozy as we can possibly make them! Yes, we are going to light a fire in the fireplace and make fudge! We are going to walk the neighborhood, look at Christmas lights and sip on a steaming cup of cocoa. We are going to make memories!
We are not going to obsess about the hair that may or may not fall while the dogs are walking from the living room to the front door, the napkin that is a slightly different shade of blush than our china, the hurricane shutters still on the dormers, how “bulky” we may or may not look in the sweater we grabbed at the last minute on our way to the checkout line…because we are enough.
Who’s with me?