It's that time of year again. The temperature outside is dropping, and the leaves are changing. All things pumpkin are being offered in restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and grocery stores. The scent of cinnamon is in the air.
It's time to start thinking about the holidays. While most of us think about the massive amounts of food we'll eat during Thanksgiving and seeing family members we only see once a year at Christmas, some folks stress over not having a place to go or anything to eat.
One of the most important aspects of proper etiquette to me is showing respect and concern for others. What better way to do that than to invite someone to your home to share the love and warmth during some of the most important days of the year?
What is it All About?
What does Thanksgiving mean to you? Is the Christmas holiday just about opening presents? Are you only thinking about the things that bring you pleasure, or are you looking outside of yourself and pondering what you can do to make others feel warm and loved?
I would like to challenge you to find someone who doesn't have family members or close friends to share one of these special days and invite them to come to your home. You don't have to ask the homeless guy who stands on the street corner at the busy intersection on the way to work (although you may). Inviting the single guy at the office or the elderly couple across the street can make a huge difference in their lives and in yours.
What Can You Do?
Call a family meeting and mention what you're thinking about doing. Ask for their opinions and actually listen to them. They might know someone they want to invite but didn't think you'd be open to it. Decide whether you want to invite one person or family or more than one. Discuss the parameters and rules.
If you choose to invite someone to your home for a holiday, make sure everyone in your family is onboard with it. Be realistic about the pros (interesting conversation and learning different traditions) and cons (possibly being uncomfortable around strangers and unknown situations that may arise) of having someone outside the family in your home.
Here are some ways to share the love with others during the holidays:
- Only invite the number of people you can accommodate in your home. You might want to consider moving away from the formal dinner table and enjoying a less formal buffet dinner. You can set up card tables to handle the people who can't comfortably fit around the dining or kitchen table.
- Before you eat, say a prayer or ask each person to say something about what they are thankful for.
- If you are inviting people who have the ability to cook, ask them to bring something they would like to share. However, if you choose to do something for a homeless person or someone who doesn't have the ability to cook, just ask him or her to bring a smile and an appetite.
- Have a variety of meats and side dishes. One person might not care for turkey but enjoy ham, while others might be vegetarian. If you have more options, everyone will leave the table satisfied.
- Send your guests away with an extra plate of food and a small gift that you have wrapped.
Benefits of Sharing the Holiday with Others
There are many benefits of inviting others to share the holidays with you. Here are a few:
- Parents are always looking for opportunities to teach kindness to their children, and this is a good one.
- It gives you an opportunity to get to know someone in a relaxed environment.
- Your family will have an opportunity to provide a united front, which might prevent an argument from breaking out as it often does when people have unrealistic expectations during the holidays.
- You might enjoy the people who came so much that you make it a tradition to spend future holidays with them.