Preparing for Holiday Guests

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The Fundamental Home

Every year, we have guests over our house for Christmas.  Some years we have just a few folks, mostly family.  Other years, we have had large groups of friends.  This year is one of the least busy, in terms of guests arriving.  We only plan to host my father and his wife for a weekend.  They do this every year, although I wish they would stay for a week at least once.  Whenever guests are coming, Rick and I have different reactions.

I love to have guests over.

Rick tolerates having guests over.

I plan lots of fun events in our home.

Rick plans lots of clean-up when I plan events in our home.

I rush around making sure every little detail is perfect.

Rick sits in a corner and dreads every little problem that could happen.

When it’s all over, I always feel like I could have done more.

When it’s all over, Rick always feels like it went way better than he expected.

What can I say?  It works.

Since there are few popping in this year, my husband is FAR more relaxed this holiday season.  I kind of like it.  Of course, I kind of like it when he is uptight.  It amuses me.

Anyway, as we get closer to Christmas Day, the preparations pick up.  I find myself planning for extra groceries.  Last time my dad came I got him to eat spaghetti squash 🙂  Oh!  If you could have seen his face!  I promised him I would keep the vegetables to a minimum this time.  In fact, for Christmas Day this year, we have let the children decide the menu.  Briana chose the main dish- a taco ring.  The boys chose pumpkin and apple pie for dessert.  My husband doesn’t ever care what’s for dinner as long as my apple pie follows.  If my Dad comes that weekend, I will make him something with chocolate.  It’s not the most traditional feast, but it will be joyful nonetheless.

I am also looking around the house to make things look their best.  It occurs to me that you have not seen our decorations.  Let me share some photos.  Forgive my non-professional photo skills.

The Fundamental Home

While we try very hard to keep the house spotless at all times, it is not its best.  I hurt my thumb early this week and have been unable to help with most of the cleaning.  I am at the mercy of my children and husband.  They are getting the dishes done every night, but they are never put away exactly right.  I don’t even want to tell you where I found the pasta strainer tonight.  The laundry is caught up, but it’s not put away the way I like it.  I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I am particular about how things are folded- a holdover from all my years in retail.  I  LOVE to fold laundry.  It’s a quirk of mine.  Once, Rick folded my towels wrong, and I brought them out to show my friend how bad they looked.  It wasn’t my finest wife moment.  He still brings that up as the reason why he won’t fold my laundry.  I think he could be a bit more forgiving, but whatever 🙂  Brian keeps up with the dusting when no one else does.  He likes things spic and span.  The bathrooms aren’t really “guest ready.”

Then, there’s the oven.  My arch enemy.  If there was ever something I would pay someone to do, it is clean my oven.  In fact, if you are reading this, and you know me personally, and wish to bless me with something amazing, come clean my oven (or pay someone to do it).  I even have brand new burner covers that can be installed when you are done, so no need to worry about cleaning them.  If that doesn’t work, I will trade you.  I will fold your mountain of laundry to perfection if you clean my oven.  Call me.  Email me.  Facebook me.  I am not to proud to put that out there.   Thank you, and God bless you!

Moving on…

The final gifts will be wrapped up this weekend.  Like I shared in our previous post, we are keeping things light this year.  For the family, most gifts are homemade.  I won’t give away everything, but some are getting our homemade jam.  Some are getting pictures.  Some are getting a re-gifted Bozo the Clown Bank (you know who you are) 😉

By the end of the weekend (with your help, oven-cleaning friend), I will have a clean home, plenty of food, and gifts to share.  The best part of all- I am not going crazy over here.

Let me tell you why I am usually losing it by now.

I don’t know about you, but I have always LOVED Martha Stewart (and didn’t I mention in another post that I am a Martha at heart).  I used to LOVE watching all her episodes on TV.  I still own a few of the DVD’s from Martha’s Holiday Collection, including Martha’s Homemade Holidays and Martha’s New Year’s Celebration.  I watch them.  Every year.  My daughter thinks everyone watches them like other people might watch Charlie Brown or Rudolph each Christmas.  My love for all things Martha might border a bit on obsession. It’s just not healthy to watch Martha Stewart that much.   For the record, though, my favorite Martha DVD is “Spring Gardening”- which I don’t own!  I get it from the library all the time.

Anyhow, when you watch that much Martha Stewart, you start to think that your ability to entertain beautifully is inferior.  Especially when you don’t have a Martha Stewart budget.

One day I will do a post on collections, but let me tell you now, all the things I collect have been influenced by that woman! Napkin rings, cloth napkins, fine linens, china, and butter molds fill my china cabinet waiting for guests to arrive.  They are aching to come out and be adored.  I love and cherish every one of them.  That is, I think they are marvelous until guests are coming.  Then, I see all the chips and cracks in the china.  I see how some of the napkins don’t quite match.  I never even try to use the butter molds for fear that something won’t come out right.

And when I look at everything through the eyes which have seen Martha, I realize how it all must seem to be lacking to those who enter our home.  I imagine that they will smile and tell me it looks nice, but on the inside they are disappointed.  I feel judgement from friends and family before any is bestowed- as if it would be.

That’s why I am normally going crazy.

No.  It’s not Martha.

It’s me.

I am not really thinking of our family or my friends.  I am only thinking of me.

That kind of thinking drives people nuts!

Why would I even think that my friends and family would think such unkind thoughts about me?  I will tell you why, because I am thinking those thoughts about me.  I am thinking only of myself and what I want.  I want Martha’s home and Martha’s garden.  Our family and friends- they didn’t come to see Martha, they came to see me and my family.

It took a very stressful year last year to let go of all that.

When Ricky was sick, and many other stressful events followed, I began to take stock of the things that were important.  And, yeah, I would still love Martha’s home and garden, but more than that, I want peace.  I want joy.  I want love.

So, this year, we are having a taco ring.

And unless someone comes to clean the oven, it will not be pretty.

And we will have fun, and I will smile.  And no one will even notice that the dishes don’t match and are chipped.

So, let me just give you a little advice, my friend.  The best way to prepare for holiday guests is to prepare yourself.  You will need to let go of the inflated image of perfection in your mind and provide what everyone is coming for, your attention without distraction.  No one is flying hundreds of miles to see your best Martha impression.  They want to you, focused on them and not straightening the table settings.  Purpose to plan less.  You don’t need homemade marshmallows shaped like snowflakes in your crockpot cocoa.  Instead, break out the Swiss Miss from the Dollar Store.  It will be fine as long as the conversation is good.

This year I may be the best hostess ever, even with my napkins rings safely tucked away for another year.

This year, I am prepared to just be me, and let that be enough.

Now, seriously, someone come clean my oven.

Thanks for sharing our post with your friends!

4 thoughts on “Preparing for Holiday Guests

  • December 17, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Excellent post. It reminds me of a book that I have – How to Have a Mary Heart in A Martha World. Of course, it’s not about Martha Stewart, but the same principle applies; prepare yourself.

    • December 17, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      I posted about Mary and Martha the other day. I just have to keep reminding myself! Martha Stewart is the ULTIMATE Martha. Maybe it’s a good thing that I am not as “Martha” as her 😉 Thanks for visiting the Fundamental Home!

  • December 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    I’m sure that just you is actually what people are looking for most. Sounds like your imperfect Christmas will be beautiful. Thank you be a new friend at Sitting Among Friends. Look forward to Posts next Wednesday.

    • December 21, 2015 at 7:04 pm

      I think the imperfect Christmas is exactly what I need, and what everyone else needs, too! Thanks for your support!


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