Welcome Home ... for the Holidays!

Create a welcoming home for the holidays

The approach of the holidays! There's nothing quite like it to turn our hearts toward home.

Literally. The first week in December could be termed "Housing Dissatisfaction Week." It's a little-known seasonal indicator of the coming of winter--and it afflicts many of us as we plan Christmas celebrations.

Look around. What do you see? Dirty carpets. Furniture that's seen better days. Mismatched china, cluttered kitchens, drab and bedraggled window coverings.

There's nothing like the arrival of the holiday season to bring us face-to-face with the things we find lacking in our home. How will we reconcile our desires with our budget?

In our own defense, it must be pointed out that we are subject to some outside agitation!

In last Sunday's paper, did you notice those glossy ads for furniture? 95% of them feature a holiday dining room: fireplace, groaning board, shining table. The fact that such a palatial spread won't fit in most American homes? Pish-tush! Why distract our glowing furniture fantasy with cold, hard realities?

Before we assess the State of the House, we need to return to one central idea: a holiday home is a welcoming home--and the quality of welcome has nothing to do with the quality of the furniture.

What truly makes a holiday home?

We seek a welcoming home, one that invites holiday guests inside and surrounds them with warmth. A welcoming home, happy center of our family's Christmas celebration. A welcoming home, that greets and enfolds us with light and cheer and good smells at the end of each busy day.

Think back to Christmas Past. Where did you feel most cherished, most delighted, most welcome in the homes of your friends?

Not that breathlessly-expensive designer show house, coldly perfect, where you feared you might track dirt on the spotless white carpet with every step. Not that oh-so-jolly holiday house, where you spent all your time keeping the children from touching, moving or breaking one of the hand-crafted decorations that covered every surface.

You may have admired these homes as works of art--but did you truly feel welcome?

I hope you remembered a home like I remember. It belongs to good friends who embody the very quality of welcome. For the life of me, I can't remember one thing about the carpets, although I admire very much the creative decorating touches that are the product of this woman's hands.

What I remember best is the perfect welcome that this home extends.

Yes, the rooms are small--but so cheery and warm and full of friends that no one notices. Delicious food and drink floats about, creating a sense of abundance.

Who can recall whether the trays were silver or plastic, the ingredients simple or costly?

Yes, there are small children living here, and yes, you can find toys and clothes and Corduroy the bear lounging about in odd places. This is a house where life is, and never more happily than during the holidays

That perfect welcome is the spirit of a holiday home. You can't buy it. You can't decorate it into existence. You can't hire someone to make it for you. You can't clean it, sew it or cook it into being.

The welcoming home springs from a room in the heart, not a room in the house.

As we plan our holiday celebration, we will go knocking at that door of the heart. We'll flirt with the senses, bring light and scent and beauty to the shell that is our home. We'll work for a serene and happy atmosphere, a spirit of calm joy, a sense of friendship grounded in, "You're here! Come in!"

A welcoming holiday home. To have one, we must refurnish our heart, not our house!

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