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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
Finding the sacred in everyday life
Day 9: Welcoming hospitality
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About this blog
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. ...
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Simply Faithful
Marketta Gregory never meant to be a columnist. \x34I trained to be a newspaper reporter -- one who tried to her best to be objective. I covered religion for a few years and felt like it was the best job a curious woman like me could ever have. Every day I got to listen as people told me about the things that were most important to them, the things that were sacred. But the newspaper industry was changing and few papers could afford to have an army of speciality reporters. So, I moved to cover the suburbs where, as luck would have it, they have plenty of religion, too. Eventually, children came into the picture. One by birth and another two months later by foster care/adoption. I struggled to chase breaking news and be home at a decent hour, so I made the move to what we journalists call the dark side: I took a job in public relations. (Don't worry. I work for a great non-profit, so it's not dark at all.) When I gave my notice at the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, the executive editor asked me to consider writing a column on a freelance basis. She didn't want the newspaper to lose touch with its religious sources, and she still wanted consistent faith coverage. I was terrified. It took me about 10 months to get back to her with a solid plan and some sample columns. And so it began, this journey of opening up my heart to strangers.\x34
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BrendaPoinsett1Today we have the opportunity to learn about welcoming people into our homes — and we’ll learn from the woman who wrote the book(s) on it! Brenda Poinsett has written 16 books and many of them touch on how to open our hearts and celebrate.

Here’s a quick Q&A with Brenda…

In the middle of all the season’s busyness, how can we welcome others?

We can welcome others as drop-ins or with an open house, with a fancy dinner or with a simple meal, with a sing-along around the Christmas tree, with hot chocolate or Wassail by the fireplace, with a Christmas breakfast, brunch or lunch. How you welcome others depends on various factors: What suits your personality? What fits your budget? What’s your space like? For years I had a large living room that flowed into a large family room that opened into the kitchen. It was a great space for having parties or open houses. Now I live in a much smaller house where the only space available for entertaining is the dining room. Much can be done, though, sitting around a table! Food can be shared, toasts offered, candles lit (perfect for observing Advent candles with guests), games played, songs sung, and conversation shared. Around the table is now my favorite way of welcoming others into my home at Christmas.

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What is it — as hosts and hostesses — that is most important to our guests? What should we focus on?

I focus on making guests feel “at home.” Will they be comfortable? Will they feel like they can be themselves? Will they enjoy themselves while in my home?

As I bring the guests together, I keep the thought of a circle in mind. I try to plan activities so everyone is involved and included.

I also plan for some time of focusing on Jesus, whose birthday we are celebrating. He’s the centerpiece of the celebration.

What should we do if our homes aren’t Pinterest perfect? 

Entertain anyway.

If I waited until my home was Pinterest perfect, I would still be waiting. Actually, most guests will feel more comfortable in an imperfect environment where they don’t feel like they will break something or mess up the decorations. People who celebrate together want to laugh, talk, eat, play, feel appreciated and experience something meaningful. It doesn’t take a perfect home or perfect food to provide this. For example, in the many parties I’ve hosted, I asked guests to bring a food item to contribute to the meal or to the refreshments so I wasn’t responsible for everything. This freed me up some so I could also enjoy the festivities. We ate well although pictures of the food might not have been “pin” worthy.

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