Hospitality has always conjured up Normal Rockwell-esque moments of family, friends, and food.  There is nothing more intimate than being invited into another’s home to share time and laughter with one another.  One of my favorite memories is going to a friend’s house for Easter.  Besides me, there was a hodge-podge of her other friends in attendance.  When we were brought together for the day, we shared a beautiful day of conversation, laughter and food.  I met people I would normally never meet, and I was so grateful for the chance to make new friends.

With that said, the holidays have always been bittersweet.  I am the product of two generations of divorce, so most of my memories of the holidays include hustled visits to family.  Christmas alone was six stops over a two-week period to appease everyone.  Now my closest family is 1000 miles away.  Because of this, I don’t put a lot of stock in traditional holiday festivities.   However, I do love entertaining guests.  For me hospitality is a way to honor and give back to the people who enrich my life.

During this time of year where we spend more time buying Isotoner gloves and Starbucks gift cards, I urge you to go deep within yourself to explore what hospitality is to you.  Here are some ways to extend hospitality to others during holidays and beyond:

  • Invite another family or friend to join you for dinner or another activity. We always know someone who could benefit from good company and a filling meal.  Perhaps it is an aunt who cannot drive herself anymore; perhaps it is the family that just moved in across the street.  Extend your hospitality to them.  If cooking dinner isn’t your thing, invite them to an activity you enjoy:  the movies, a sporting event, a concert, or even a walk in the park.  Expanding our tribe to those who can use some hospitality nourishes everyone involved.
  • Make a donation to a worthy cause in someone’s honor. My Dad doesn’t know this, but every year I make a couple of donations to my alma mater’s scholarship fund in his honor.  It is my way of helping another student while giving gratitude for his steadfast support and encouragement in me to earn my undergraduate degree.  We all have someone who did something extraordinary in our lives.  Pay it forward by donating your time or money to a worthy cause.  It’s up to you if you want to share what you’ve done with the person you are honoring.  Sometimes it is nice to do something without it being noticed, too.
  • Slow down and allow more time to just be. The holidays are a time to show gratitude and love for the blessings in our life.  That can get lost in the hustle to have the perfect dinner or find the perfect gift for someone.  During this time, take a few minutes everyday to let yourself relax.  Brew a cup of tea and read that magazine you’ve been meaning to get to since June.  Go outdoors and breathe in the crisp fall air.  Marvel at the beauty of Mother Earth slowly going into hibernation.  Sit with your thoughts:  don’t try to fix anything, judge anything, but just be.  When you have time to just BE, you will recharge your own battery and give yourself the nourishment you need before you give to others.

Hospitality is a way for us to show gratitude for the people in our lives, and sometimes we need to carve out time for self-reflection before we can truly appreciate it.  We have so many reasons to be grateful, and giving to others is a way to be of service while nourishing ourselves.  That is the true gift of hospitality.