Habits of Hospitality

The December holidays are fast approaching.  In fact, each year evidence of the  “countdown” seems to come earlier and earlier.  For some of us it’s a welcome focus – an opportunity to reconnect with familiar traditions, with friends and family, and with stories of hope and love.  For others this can be an uncomfortable time – filled with burdensome expectations regarding  the need to buy presents we can’t afford, to eat and drink to excess, and to suppress our experiences of loss, fear or pain.

Being aware of and sensitive to the fact that we don’t all experience the December holidays in the same way, and that this may be a particularly troublesome or lonely time for some, is one of the ways that we can live out our Unitarian Universalist Principles and values.

We can use this opportunity to cultivate or refine habits of hospitality, such as:  calling folks we haven’t seen in a while to let them know we’re thinking of them; sharing information about fun, inter-generational, low-cost social events; offering to run errands or provide rides to people who may have a hard time getting around; providing attractive, healthy, non-alcoholic refreshments when hosting an event; and stressing appreciation for generosity of spirit, over material generosity!

My own on-going commitment to hospitality involves growing in self-awareness regarding my own needs and preferences, and to not make assumptions about what other people need or want!

It’s humbling to find out how often “I get it wrong” when I do assume, and how much damage that can cause.   Much simpler and satisfying is the practice of remaining curious about my fellow human beings:  encouraging them to give expression to their needs and desires and, perhaps, finding “a fit”.  Something I can offer, that will be well placed and make a difference.


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