Having just celebrated Thanksgiving, I was explaining to a friend that having a houseful of guests for the entire week had strained my introverted personality. She looked at me and asked, “So, why did you do it?”
Good question! Why did I spend hours scrubbing floors, making beds, planning menus, hauling groceries, cooking—and now washing load after load of sheets and towels—in order to create a situation I knew I’d find stressful?
Very simple. As I went down the list of the nine guests we hosted for Thanksgiving, I realized that each and every person was special to me. They were friends and family. I love them. Yes, it would be nice to see them at a more leisurely pace, perhaps two or three at a time, but if the only way I could spend time with any of them was en masse, I’d take it.
The calendar says November, Thanksgiving is two weeks away, and Christmas isn’t far behind. For years you’ve extended invitations to everyone in your family, and no one has come to visit. But this year…. Your sister just announced that she and her husband are bringing their eight kids. Five minutes later your in-laws called to say they’re finally free this year. Your other sister found out everyone was coming, and didn’t want to miss the excitement. And by the way, can she bring her (humongous) dog? And her boyfriend?
At first you were excited about having a family reunion… but now reality is setting in. Where will you put them all? How will you help them feel welcome?
Pete and I once successfully hosted twelve family members (in addition to our nuclear family of four) in our three-bedroom house… for an entire week. (Five more people stayed with a neighbor, but ate with us.) It would easy now that our kids are grown and on their own—we have two dedicated guest rooms plus another bed in my home office. But we used to live in an area where housing prices were very high, and houses were very small. Where did we put our overnight guests then?