As parties, obligations, family gatherings and year-end sales begin to stack up, the holidays start becoming more about keeping up with the never-ending to-do list and less about the people and places that mean most to us. Amidst the crazy, I long for a place and space to belong. When was the last time you fell into a warm blanket on the couch and felt fully relaxed and embraced? Can I admit that it’s been awhile?
This Thanksgiving, I’ve decided to refocus a bit and I’m inviting a little summer camp into my home. Camp puts every effort into creating a space that is warm, welcoming and inviting to all who enter. The staff seems to have this magic ability to make every camper feel like the coolest kid on the block. There is a seat at the table, a bunk in the room and a spot in the circle for each camper. Counselors are trained to say, “over here!” to any child who looks like they aren’t sure where to belong. What if this wasn’t just a summer camp phenomena? What if this Thanksgiving, we embraced that same sense of hospitality in our neighborhood and schools?
While none of us need more to do during the holidays, perhaps we could pick one or two intentional activities to do as a family that would cultivate hospitality in our homes. At camp, we teach every kid to set the dining table in order to build muscles of hospitality and responsibility. Perhaps November becomes the month of the kids setting the table, or maybe it starts with gathering the family to eat a meal together on a more consistent basis. If you have a creative child, they might want to be in charge of table decorations this Thanksgiving!
More than the act of hosting in a house, we can cultivate in our kids a hospitable heart that welcomes and cares for the people around them. Writing notes of gratitude, sitting lunch with someone who doesn’t have friends, baking a treat for neighbors— the opportunities are all around. It might even mean making some space for a cozy night at home with the family. This Thanksgiving, let’s be a community that says a little more “over here!” and a little less “we need to hurry over there!”
Check out this blog post titled “A Grateful Family Is A Happy Family: 5 Gratitude Practices.”