December 21, 2020
by Karly

The smell of bolognese swifts through every room of the home. Christmas hymns are being sung and guests are swaying. Old friends and new friends gather here. You are greeted with a warm embrace, knowing you are seen. Cookies are being decorated with homemade icing and wine glasses are being refilled.

This is what Christmas Eve is like at the Beckwith home. We have a huge Italian dinner, even though none of us are Italian. All of the neighbors are invited to join. My Mother would knock on their doors weeks before to invite them face to face. When you walk through the door, you are greeted with the biggest smile and hug. My Mother is always so good at making each person feel right at home, never out of place. She would go from room to room, being sure to spend time with every neighbor. She is a connector, and would aim to help start conversations between old and new friends.

On Christmas Day, our whole family comes to my parent’s home to celebrate Christ's birth. It is the only time of the whole year that we are all together, so it is a real treat but also all kinds of crazy. My Mom knows each person's dietary needs, and is sure to have multiple options for them. She learns how to bake new recipes to cater to what each person enjoys. She buys these Swedish Christmas poppers and sets them at each plate to celebrate our family’s heritage. Inside are fun little toys, games and crowns to wear during dinner. She has a few of us help set up dinner, serve dinner and then clean up the mess. She does not put all of the stress on herself, but she invites others to help and take ownership. She enjoys getting to serve next to a few specific guests so she can find out how they are doing. When you are leaving, you know you will be told you are loved and missed already. She exudes compassion from her core. It pours out from that place. When I think of the word intentionality, I think of my Mother. With the holidays around the corner, I wanted to take some time to share some tips on how we can be more intentional in making our guests feel right at home.

I know this Christmas will most likely look a bit different for many of us, still being in this pandemic. Many of us may be isolated from our loved ones. I picture my grandparents being alone this Christmas and I can’t think about it without tears. Let’s be extra intentional in how we show others from up close or far that they are seen, loved and we are celebrating with them. Let’s keep fighting for hope to be the loudest hymn in our hearts this season.

Here are some practical tips for showing intentionality and care this holiday season. For every tip, I have added a COVID MOD option

Write name cards at the table when you have guests over.
Have a zoom dinner or dessert and still write a name card for the people who are on zoom to show you’ve still set a place in their honor.
Have their favorite drink or dessert waiting for them.
If able, leave their favorite drink or dessert at their door. If they live too far away- Venmo them money to pick up their favorite treat.
Pick up some fresh flowers to set at your table, and then you can give the flowers to the guest on their way out.
send flowers to your loved ones.
Create a space where someone can come as they are, and rest well. Turn off the tv in the background, put the phone away and be present with them.
Be present on your zoom or phone call, turn off the background noise and rest well with your loved ones near or far.
Pick up the phone and talk instead of a simple text. Handwritten letters are also a sweet way to send care. This also works great in a pandemic.
Invite guests to serve beside you, or offer to help if you’re a guest!
Allow others to serve you as well. If you are hosting guests and need a last minute errand pick up, ask for help from someone who isn’t hosting this year. Serve and be served friends.
Make a gift for someone that needs a pick-me-up this holiday. This doesn’t need to be fancy, it’s the thought that counts. It can be fresh baked bread or a fun little craft you invite her little one to do with you.
Mail or drop the gift off to them. Don’t just think of your family for this- but think about who needs to know they are being thought of this holiday. (a neighbor, teacher, mail man, trash truck driver or someone you’ve lost touch with)
Christmas carol outside of your neighbors door. Sing songs of hope and cheer over one another.
wear a mask and carol :) COVID Caroling.
Tell your people why you are thankful for them. Tell them the ways you are fuller simply because you know them. Remind them that you love them.
call, text, send a letter to share with your people why they matter. I don’t think you can tell people this enough.

As this pandemic continues on, let’s not grow tired and weary of spreading joy and cheer where we can.

“The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.”

Alabaster & Elm loves you.