“There are exactly as many special occasions in life as we choose to celebrate.” ~Robert Brault
A few years ago it happened, and it couldn’t have come at a better moment.
At the time I was involved in a monthly get together with my cousins. We were a group of eight cousins getting together to talk about family and life in general.
It had started off when my sister was going through a nasty divorce, and one of the cousins came up with the idea of getting together to celebrate my sister’s birthday to bring some cheer into her life.
Once the celebration was under way, we all agreed on how great it would be to make it a once a month gathering of all cousins. And so it began: the once a month ritual of getting together in one of the cousins’ houses for dinner.
We would take turns hosting the event, so that we would each have a turn at being an amazing hostess for a dinner.
We all had different financial situations, so we would go from a very fancy dinner at a very fancy house, to a simple dinner in a simple home where I would find more love and peace than in most.
You could say I was one of the cousins with the middle class lifestyle, yet I opened up my home with the best of intentions, always hoping to give my cousins the best I could.
The first dinner that took place at my home was exciting but also full of anxiety, for I had to prepare my home for the dinner gathering.
I remember making a list of things I wanted to buy. I felt like I was having the president over for dinner—like I had to make my home seem fancy, when in reality it wasn’t.
I was a mom of three young children, and my home was far from being fancy.
The list included some of the following: a new set of dinner plates, coffee mugs, flatware, and so on. I would prepare the table as best I could, try to imitate the house of the cousin that was better off financially.
Yes, now it sounds so ridiculous. I was trying to be something I wasn’t. Having beautiful things isn’t wrong; it’s putting so much value in things that seems so wrong to me.
Suddenly a light went on. This magical moment occurred when I fixed my table for the dinner, something very close to how you’d see it in a magazine.
As my husband walked past the dining room, he said to me “You make it look so beautiful. How come we never get to have these kinds of dinners?”
That, right there, was my light bulb moment.
Why was I doing so much for my cousins and not for my family that I loved so much? How can we spend so much of our energy trying to give the best to others and not for the people under our very own roof? The people we love the most, quite possibly the most important people in our lives.
From then on, I’ve taken the fancy plates out every night, and I always put a centerpiece on the table. I don’t save the beautiful plates for special guests.
My most valuable guests will always be my husband and my children, and someday their spouses and my grandchildren.
I’m thankful for these beautiful life lessons that come to us and make us see things in a whole different way. We evolve and we make change. We find what truly is important in life, and, in doing, so we are freed from pretending to be something other than who we truly are.
You can start today by doing something different—something special for those you love. Set your table as if the most amazing people you know are coming to dinner. When you think about it, they really are.
Photo by Charline Tetiyevsky.