When You Can’t Hide the Welcome Mat

Holly BerriesLike it or not, the holiday season is here.  And with it comes the inevitable opportunity for entertaining in a myriad of ways.  There are parties to be given and out-of-town guests to be housed.  So, now may be an appropriate time to face the ugly truth:  There are just some people in this world that don’t make the best guests.  If your entertaining plans include anyone that fits this description, I understand that this can be an emotional (and almost physical) drain.  For us, personally, time carved out for people that mean the most to us is a valuable commodity, not something to be squandered recklessly.  So, to give up sacred time to spend with people that practically suck the very life out of me, well that can be a sacrifice.

Back in my corporate days, I worked with this incredible woman.  She was everything that I am not, both in appearance and personality.  She was this tall, sleek, dark, and a somewhat mysterious and guarded woman.  When we went traveled together, as we often did, I felt like the chihuahua puppy nipping at the heels of a beautiful quarter horse.

Being of  Haitian-descent, she shared many wonderful anecdotes with me that were based on Haitian folklore.  My favorite, and the one that rang true with me, is do not invite negative energy into your house.  In her divine wisdom, she said don’t invite it in because it’s too hard to rid your house of it afterwards.

I think about this often and honestly try and live by it.  For me, life is too short to spend time with people who just go around emitting all that negative stuff onto others.  But, the reality is, sometimes you don’t have much choice in the matter.  Sometimes negative energy finds its way into your home, whether on the back of some relative (which reminds me of that adage about being able to pick your friends but not your family) or the (somewhat unwelcome) spouse of someone you hold dear.  Or, they could be that neighbor that is all too available to participate in any neighborhood get-together.  And, there is always the oft-dreaded work party where that certain someone you do so well avoiding in the office is all of a sudden a guest in your home.  So, although most of the time I can choose who comes to our home and sits at our table or sleeps in our guest room, sometimes I’m just stuck with the situation.  That’s when Haitian folklore meets Southern hospitality.  I realized, recently when I was presented with this very predicament, that I learned graciousness from my mother.  With all of her Southern charm and grace, my mother was the epitome of gracious.  If she was ever gritting her teeth in artificial tolerance, you’d never know it.  She had the ability to make anyone feel at home without ever seeming false or fake while doing it.  To me, this is the real art of being gracious.

At this point, I could regale you with stories about the times I’ve had less-than-pleasant guests in my home.  But I decided to dial back the snarky here to, in the spirit of the season and the sweeping away of negativity, just leave it alone.

So, if you find negative energy a-knockin’ at your door, I’m afraid you may just have to deal with it.  I have found that a glass, or three, of wine helps the situation immensely.  Then focus on the positives and serve up all the graciousness you can muster.  All the while, don’t let any of the negative stuff get a foothold in your soul or home, so that you can just sweep any lingering negativity out the door right behind the person who so cluelessly brought it there in the first place.

If you find yourself needing some comfort , here’s a recipe to try.  Because a little chicken soup is feel good food when we need it the most.

Chicken Tortellini Soup

Happy (and Gracious) Entertaining!

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