It’s beginning to look like a more typical holiday season this year. Like everyone else, we did not get to spend Thanksgiving with our children and grandchildren last year.

Missing an almost entire year of holidays with our family has made me rethink how I want to cherish every moment I have with them in the future.

Let me explain. If you have ever read the story of Mary and Martha in the Bible, you know that Mary was the person greeting her guest, washing the feet of Jesus, and peacefully enjoying her company. (Luke 10:38-42)

Her sister, Martha, is the one who is exhausted from getting the house ready, preparing the food, and making sure everyone is comfortable.

I am Martha in this story, but I would rather be Mary.

The last Thanksgiving we had before the Pandemic, I was so busy that I forgot to enjoy the time with my grandchildren.

I planned to prepare the perfect dinner by cooking everyone’s favorite food and keeping us with the conversations.

My granddaughter, Jayne, walked into the kitchen several times and asked, “Nana, when are you going to come and walk with us?”

“Soon, I said. I’m just trying to get our special dinner done.” Yet, long after that day, throughout this entire year, I have remembered her sad face over and over again.

When it came time to put all the food on the table, I had made more food than my table could accommodate.

Trying to be the perfect hostess is sometimes exhausting. We try to have a perfectly cleaned and decorated home; we often work to create or dazzle our guests with decorations, food, and our many efforts.

However, when our guests arrive, we are exhausted, and we make excuses for not doing enough.

Hospitality isn’t about being the perfect host/hostess.

At its core, hospitality is simply about loving others. It is how we welcome and honor them. It is about making space for others to feel accepted and known, precisely as they are.

One of the first people who welcomed me to our new home in Virginia invited me to her home for coffee. She had been busy working in her garden all day.

She took her gloves off and laid them in a basket on her cluttered counter when we went inside. There were all sorts of canning jars, kitchen tools, and dishes in the sink.

She put the coffee on and handed me a small cake, a pretty plate, and a knife. She asked me to slice it while she got our cups and dessert plates ready.

When the coffee was ready, she filled our cups, sat down across from me, smiled, and said, “Now, tell me about yourself and how you like your new home.”

I felt so welcomed. I shared how we chose this wonderful little town we live in, talked about our kids and grandkids, and thanked her for her hospitality.

Before I left, she filled a basket of vegetables and a bottle of her homemade wine and told me to call anytime I needed anything.

It’s easy to lose sight of what is essential when we are hosting any holiday. But there are ways to make it happen and enjoy our families, too.

Many event planners say that the most important thing you can do when planning for a big day is to list and plan the things you need to prepare and the groceries you need to buy.

Doing it on a clipboard and your phone will help you when you go to the store.

Giving your kitchen a deep clean the week before includes cleaning the refrigerator and stove before the big day.

Many people we know choose to have a Thanksgiving meal delivery service from one of the local grocery stores. Having someone else prepare and deliver the meal takes a massive chunk of stress out of your day.

Many Thanksgiving dishes can be made weeks ahead and frozen, or you can have everyone bring a particular dish, and the hosts provide the meats and drinks.

Giving the children a piece of paper with an activity they can do to help make the dinner go well, like helping with food or setting the table, makes them feel a part of everything.

Plan for leftovers, clean as you go, and don’t forget to ask for help.

We are still dealing with the covid pandemic, so to eliminate that stress, ask your guests who are not vaccinated, to take a rapid covid test the day they are planning to arrive at your house.

Just to make sure, you can purchase some tests to have at your home for those that don’t take the test before they come.

You can purchase Rapid Covid tests at Walmart, CVS pharmacy, Amazon, and many more places.

Remember, long after Thanksgiving is over, it won’t be the food you prepared or whether you were the perfect hostess. Instead, it will be the love your family and friends felt and the memories you made that will last a lifetime.

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