Did you know there are two ways to define wassail? Googling “wassail” here’s the first thing to pop up:
- drink plentiful amounts of alcohol and enjoy oneself with others in a noisy, lively way.”he feasted and wassailed with his warriors”synonyms:drink and make merry · go on a drinking bout · go on a binge · binge · [more]
- go from house to house at Christmas singing carols.
We wassail-ed #2. Probably some parents wished we had combined a little wassail #1 with it.
Though we lacked plentiful amounts of alcohol, still we walked our neighborhood, with a band of about 12 children, ranging in ages from 5 to 13, most wearing stuffed antlers, and Santa hats, singing loudly, and about half as many adults, whose job it was to yell ‘CAR!’ every 2 minutes or so.
Afterwards, we came back to our house, for food, and merriment.
Before this sounds too over-the-top Old Navy commercial, or 7.5 ways to have the Best Caroling Party Ever Pinterest pin-y, allow me to sprinkle a little holiday truth dust on the scene.
Our house is small. There are two functional bedrooms, and a little but ferocious dog was bundled into one of them.
The layout is straight 1950s with a tiny living room, adjacent to the awkward dining room, cut off from the kitchen, which is next to nothing. Seating space is limited, and the Christmas tree is engulfing half of the little living space.
There’s one functioning bathroom and it works beautifully. Just look away from that missing patch of 1980s wallpaper we stripped off to confirm the window did leak and there is now just a touch of black mold growing there.
Our kitchen is great except for lacking a dishwasher, and space for more than two people to stand in the heart of it at the same time.
Here’s the truth of our house. It’s dear, snug, and we’ve spent the last five years making it ours. It’s also a mess in it’s own right, always about 5 minutes away from being overrun by the wild outside or the wild inside.
There’s a lavender painted bedroom that makes Dorothy so happy. I’ve got my red living room and dining room, because I’ve lost the ability to live in a house without a rich red room. The yard is an awkward shape, but huge. Most importantly its smack dab in a neighborhood of people we love.
So we gave a party and kept it simple.
Chili and cornbread, a round of homemade sugar cookies, and a variety of fizzy water made up the menu.
A text sent, I don’t know 10 days?, prior rallied the party-goers.
As far as the caroling went, none of us knew what we were doing, except my terribly talented friend, Alana, who is a music therapist by trade, and literally strolled through the ‘hood with a guitar strapped to her body. She strummed all the Christmas songs we sang, and she did an excellent job of keeping all of us somewhere around the key we were aiming for.
So small house + good food + overly excited children in reindeer headgear + whacky dogs + singing = a pretty terrific time and a lovely memory.
We asked, people said yes, and we opened our doors. A party happened, and from between 4:30 to about 7:15pm last night our house held about 18 or 19 people, and 10 of them were under the legal driving age.
Have you thrown open your days lately and invited people inside?
If not, is something, besides severe introversion, stopping you?
I gave you my list
It turns out, I needed to get over myself. Folks didn’t want to judge the state of our bathroom; they wanted to eat simple food someone else made.
Our guests weren’t interested in our outdated kitchen or the lack of an open floorplan, but they were happy to eat a meal in peace because their kids were with other kids and not talking over them.
We all need hospitality, to be hospitable and to receive hospitality. To break cornbread together, and eat off holiday-themed paper plates, and to overdo it on sugar cookies and the cake someone brought to share.
Yes, the season is frantic and frenzied and brings out the bad words. I wrote about it here. And still, there are good things we can do.
Volatire wrote, we are all guilty of the good we did not do.
I mention this only to ask: is there some good you could do? In the true spirit of Christmas, considering that couple, so long ago, turned away at an the inn, and that baby to come who would change our world.
Don’t take this as terrible pressure. No one is expecting you to perform miracles.
However, could you invite someone to dinner? Invite someone to tea? Or accept the invitations coming at you, one or two of them? But only from the people you really like; we’re not canonizing any saints today.
And if you can make the space, make the space.
I won’t say it didn’t take work, because I’d rather not get struck by lightening. Except for the two hours we dedicated to church, it was a full day of party prep, party having, and party clean-up.
But once a year, I can make the space, and invite people in, instead of waiting for someone else to make it, or to avoid it altogether.
It turns out, we could have a caroling and chili party that sounds worthy of a Pinterest pin, without every being, or doing, or looking like people we’re not. It meant having a party on my terms instead of the internet’s terms.
It’s our home. You’re welcome at this inn. Please come in. Peace be with, y’all.