Not to Impress, But to Bless.
One Sunday afternoon while playing our almost weekly game of Apples to Apples, it was my turn to lay out the green category card and be the "judge." The category was excited (or happy or something like that), and one of my fellow gamers played the red card that said party. An obvious choice, and an easy win for that person, because they knew that planning and hosting a party does make me happy.
I was a new bride of four months when I hosted my first Christmas party. We invited a group of family and friends from church to come over after the Sunday evening service for a rather impromptu gathering. I knew so little about the "right" way to entertain, but I set the dining room table with some Christmas goodies, including some holiday Little Debbie® cakes, still in their wrappers. Ack! Let's just say that Martha would not have been impressed with my party. Most of what I remember about that evening, however, is that it was lots of fun, that we shared some special time munching and laughing and talking.
When we bought our house, a Handyman's Special if I've ever seen one, we had many, many years of repair and remodeling before all the rooms were functional. (More of the grisly details ~here~.) Even so, we invited people over for meals and hosted many family gatherings during those years.
But even though I have always loved to open my home and share it with others, I must admit that it was not always easy. There were lots of things to learn, most of which had to do with too much stress, too much perfectionism, too much worrying about what other people thought. I doubt that my family enjoyed the days and hours before a gathering when my expectations were high and so was the tension.
These days (after 34 years of marriage), we still host lots of events. We have my married daughter and her family over almost every Sunday. (For glimpses of our Sunday afternoons, visit Sunday Snapshots.) We celebrate oodles of birthdays. Our home is the spot for holiday dinners. And we have friends over for dinner parties or outdoor gatherings from time to time throughout the year. But now, I have learned to relax and enjoy my guests, as well as the time spent preparing for them to come.
It was a slow journey from enthusiastic-but-stressed-hostess-who-was-worried-about-making-an-impression to enthusiastic-hostess-who-hosts-to-bless-others.
Are you on that journey? Are you there yet?