Brent and I used to host gatherings in our home all the time. Actually, I should say Brent was gracious enough to tolerate my need for hosting gatherings. He was also great at last-minute-panic-cleaning, which is usually how I tended to operate. We had a 90s themed party, white elephant gift parties, birthday parties, movie nights - all sorts of gatherings. They were a riot, usually, and hosting filled my tank. It was one of my favorite things to do.
Then Harlynn died.
My love for gathering with friends was replaced by my love of personal reflection, needing space, quiet, and refuge. The thought of hosting other people made me physically uncomfortable; this was something I had never experienced before. I had a few friends ask me when I was going to host parties again. There was a time I would have thought, "never". Yet I would answer with, "When I'm ready." or "When the time is right."
I decided this year, this month, the time was right. Kind of. A little bit. Using my passive-aggressive tendencies as my shield, I decided to have a white elephant gift exchange. I knew if I hosted it during the week, beyond the first week of December, I probably wouldn't have a big turn out. Everyone is busy this time of year, and with so much else going on, it would be difficult to get people to come. I could ease my way back into this hostess persona.
How does that saying go? "If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans."
We have a history of having anywhere from six to eight people show for our white elephant parties. They're usually the smallest gatherings. Or at least they were. We had 16 people last night. Six. Teen. Sixteen. Our home is big enough to comfortably accommodate 10, maximum. We were very cozy in my living room.
Being a little rusty at hostessing, I felt the need to get the party underway as soon as possible. We drew numbers and were off selecting gifts. I have to tell you, I haven't laughed so hard in such a long time. My face was sore before the night was up, The next morning, my cheeks still ached.
My biggest disappointment of the night was the fact our guests had to leave. We put Little Miss and Little Man to bed, and I sat in our living room, feet propped up, telling my husband repeatedly how much fun it was. He agreed.
Our home may be small, but when it's full of friends, laughter, and hilarious treasures of gifts, I'm okay with being cozy. Especially since it allowed me the opportunity to see this up close and personal...
The time was right. I was able to talk about Harlynn with our friends. Her stocking hung with the rest of ours. Her special ornaments were displayed prominently on our tree. Harlynn bear was sitting in the living room with the rest of us. We had her blessing to host the party.
It took 20 months before I was ready to open my home, my heart, up to hosting again. It was the time table that was right for me.
I just want to encourage you: whatever you're going through, whatever you're facing, and whatever you struggle with, you can return to glimpses of yourself, of what you're comfortable with, when the time is right. It doesn't have to be today. It doesn't have to be this month. This year. This decade. The Lord will prompt you when the time is right. And when it is, you'll be ready. And if you're only "kind of" ready, as I was, power through. It just might surpass your expectations.
I can't wait to host another party...
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens."
~ Ecclesiastes 3:1