I’m convinced God designed me to gather people. To serve them, encourage them and watch magic happen when strangers become friends.
I love to prep my home for guests who will share an evening meal or for friends who’ll stay overnight. Like a little girl who plays house, I do my best to make our rooms inviting and cozy.
The attitude we convey to our guests is more important than a fancy house or one clean enough to eat off of the floor. Our homes don’t have to be perfect to invite folks in.
The comfort and love I’ve found in friends’ homes over many years, no doubt, has shaped my desire to create a warm space for others. At the lowest point of my life, an invitation into a loving home gave me hope. My outlook was altered. Nothing makes me happier than offering the same biblical hospitality to someone else. To offer a listening ear and an open heart.
For many years, we hosted a soup luncheon for our entire neighborhood. It was a highlight of the Christmas season. On the invitations I included B.Y.O.B. I didn’t have as many bowls as I needed so I asked them to bring your own bowl. I prepared three or more soup varieties and for an extra gift, I invited them also to take some soup home. You should have seen how large some of the bowls were that came through our door.
When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things, not the great occasions, give off the greatest glow of happiness.
That gathering was a lot of work, but it was a gift to my husband Tom and me. “The soup luncheon is our favorite Christmas party,” I’d hear over and over. Gathering neighbors meant so much to us and to them. They felt like family. Time and again, I watched friendships blossom between next-door neighbors who hadn’t met previously.
My favorite Christmas gifts are these sort of experiences. I receive as much or more than the intended recipients.
I hosted a Christmas soup luncheon today that looked very different. I invited my two neighbors over for a bowl of Minestrone soup along with a loaf of my artisan bread. I missed our previous larger group, but this was the 2020 version of what I’ve done in past years. This has been the year to adapt.
Hosting my little party of three filled up my emotional tank. I felt the satisfaction of doing one of the things I’m designed to do. Those two women have become my best friends in our neighborhood and they’re the happiest surprises from the change I never wanted—a move away from my hometown to Columbia.
My favorite Christmas gifts aren’t the things I buy. They are treasured experiences I gather from spending time with others.
And here’s a Christmas gift for you, my friend; a recipe for one of my favorite soups.
1 28oz diced or crushed tomatoes
1 can drained and rinsed chick peas or kidney beans
1 quart chicken or beef broth
1 medium yellow or red pepper, chopped
1 t basil
1 t garlic powder
1 C uncooked penne pasta
2-3 C baby spinach
Grated Parmesan and fresh basil for topping
In large pot combine tomatoes, broth, sweet pepper and seasoning.
Bring to boil, then simmer until done.
A few minutes before you eat, add cooked pasta and spinach.
I cook pasta separately (al dente) and add last, so it isn’t soggy.
Especially good topped with Parmesan and served with crusty Artisan bread (with butter) !
I always double this recipe; it’s so easy.