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‘Tis the Season…of holiday parties and get-togethers – a time for sharing and fellowship with family and friends. It should be a joyous time, and often is, but I have to admit that sometimes hostessing one of these events stresses me out.

Hospitality is an important duty in Christianity, especially when offered to the traveller and stranger. I think about past times in human history when a stranger’s hospitality could have meant the difference between life and death. Offering food, shelter and drink was the moral thing to do. I’m sure it was also a source of pleasure, an opportunity for sharing news, stories, and experiences and meeting new people.

So why do I find offering hospitality so daunting? My mother-in-law blamed Martha Stewart! Martha’s brand is based on the illusion that the modern woman can be all things – career woman, brilliant hostess, accomplished cook, stunning decorator and creative homemaker. It’s impossible to live up to these glossy standards. Now, realistically, I know my guests probably aren’t judging my decorating, or running their fingers across my furniture checking for dust, but I still can’t help but see all the faults in my home when I am faced with the prospect of welcoming guests into it. The combination of an old house and two furry pets certainly makes spiffing up the house a big job.

The yard is also a big stressor. We love our screened in porch and have a nice deck in the back yard. So, every time we are going to host a dinner or party, we straighten up the yard, clean off the outdoor furniture, prepare mosquito repellant torches and set up lighting, etc. so that folks can enjoy the backyard. It can take me one to two weeks to clean up the yard, depending on the time of year. Ironically, during a party we hosted last month the weather was perfect, the yard was welcoming, and yet, not a single guest stepped outside! Everyone preferred to congregate inside.

All of this leads to a tiny bit of dread when it comes time to host — but I am working on controlling this reaction and trying to be more relaxed about entertaining. I know I always enjoy having guests over and I’m always glad in the end that we did it. I also really wish we had family in the area, as I would love to have my relatives over, and I wouldn’t care in the slightest if the the floor hadn’t been swept!

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