When planning your holiday parties, what are the first things you plan? The food? The music and/or activities? Guest list? Decorations? Are you more concerned with how the venue will look, or how the food will taste? How do you choose the music? Do you consider the impact to the event of fragrance? Tom thinks I get a little crazy with planning the details of gatherings, too, but like most of us, I tend to start by thinking about my guests. What will they enjoy; what can I do to promote their comfort and sense of welcome?
For several years, we have hosted Thanksgiving for my side of the family. I cannot tell you how much joy it brings me! One of the big perks of retiring this year is that we don't have to start cleaning and cooking and decorating quite so soon, but truthfully, I can't wait to begin.
Since we grocery shop on a monthly basis, beginning means adding the big items to our grocery lists in September. It took me a couple of years for me to let go of trying to cook the whole meal. The other women in my family are much better cooks than me, so let them bring their favorites, right? Tom and I do the turkey and ham, and Tom has to fix his mashed potatoes. To take care of my Honey Bunny, I always make him one of Mama's sour cream pound cakes. And we're done. Yeah!
After getting a head start on the grocery shopping, we start hauling up all those boxes of Christmas decorations. Thank goodness we have a large dining table so I can open and sort. We don't do all of our decorating before the Thanksgiving gathering, just the living room and main bathroom. You'd think I'd take pictures and label boxes so all I have to do is bring up only the ones I need for those two rooms. Naahh! That's too easy, and besides I love how the boxes are so stuffed with memories that they almost spring open by themselves.
Of course before the Christmas tree can go up or the bookshelves decorated, everything needs a good cleaning (because who really has time or energy to actually clean holiday decorations once they're up and out?). Decorating takes several days. Boxes hauled back downstairs, then another cleaning to get stray needles and glitter. Then, that amazing moment when the lights come on for the first time of the season! Why doesn't that get old? I sit and sigh and remember for as long as I can, then finally get back to more preparation for the ones I love most.
I don't know about you, but sometimes in all the preparation, it's easy to get caught up in making sure the house looks great, the food smells and taste delicious, the music is perfectly chosen and there's no hint that cats let us live in their house. In other words, the doing becomes more important than the whoing. That's exactly what happened to my bunny friends, Bobby and Bonnie.
"“I can’t believe this!” Bobby thought, mentally slapping his forehead. “I better make sure to catch up with Jack at recess.”
By the time it was recess, Bobby was almost dreading talking to Jack. What if Jack couldn’t come to his party either? Why did Mama and Papa let him decide who to invite all by himself? His first friends’ party was already starting to be less fun than he had hoped.
“Hey, Jack! Please tell me you can come to my party on Saturday!” Bobby called.
“About that….,” Jack hesitated.
“Oh no,” thought Bobby, “here we go again.”" (excerpt from "Bobby and Bonnie Have a Party", Life with Bobby and Bonnie, copyright © 2014 by Alice V. Walters, Xulon Press).
I hope as you're planning and preparing for your holiday gatherings, you're able to do a better job than the Bunny twins and me of relaxing and focusing on enjoying the ones you love the most. Besides, aren't all those sumptuous sensory delights always a bit better when they're shared with those we care about?