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In the meantime, make room anyway

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As I write this, I have no idea where my family will eat Christmas dinner. At least 25 of us usually gather at someone’s house, but we have yet to finalize the arrangements. I’m sure we’ll figure it out.

At any other time, I would invite everyone to come over to our house. Even though we don’t host people often, I enjoy entertaining. However, like most good hosts, I like for my guests to be comfortable and for the house to be just right. This is where I’m running into some problems for Christmas 2018.

My niece sent me a text earlier in the week asking if we were hosting dinner this year. I told her no because we don’t have enough seating to accommodate all of our would-be guests. I’ve slowly been getting rid of furniture that doesn’t fit our home or family’s style. For now, it’s left us without a kitchen table and a bare formal dining area that we envision one day serving multiple purposes. We’ve yet to replace the items that we’ve given away, and truthfully, we’re not in a big rush to do so. I’m enjoying this moment of imagining the space’s future.

On several occasions, my husband has found me standing in a space that once held something that didn’t quite fit, pondering any number of ideas to create something that makes sense for us and appeals to our combined aesthetic. He usually just shakes his head and leaves me be.

I’ve created Pinterest boards for each room without regard to price, time or labor. If it fits the vision, I add it. It’s such a simple act, but it brings me so much joy.

I think as a society we’ve gotten away from finding joy in bare spaces. We have to fill every space, even if the things we choose to fill it with do not best serve our purpose. Our homes are cluttered with things we don’t need, and we’re now in the season of buying even more. Our time is cluttered with too many screens, too many plans and too many booked weekends.

We do it to our kids, too. There are too many practices, rehearsals and after-school activities. They spend more time studying than exploring their gifts. I’m definitely guilty of this. Last year, it took no fewer than four adults to help out with my son’s schedule. We had a talk, and I made him cut back on some activities, even ones that he really enjoyed. He needed the space, and frankly, so did we.

I know during the holiday season, there are many requests for our time, our space. It’s hard to say no because these requests come from people and organizations that we hold dear. Still, I think it’s worth it to clear some time for exploration, for daydreams, for nothing in particular. And I think it’s necessary to create space now to make room for our next.

One day, we’ll host Christmas dinner, and I hope everyone will fill our space with love and laughter. But when they walk through the door, they hopefully will already find our home full, both with a few items that will bring comfort and pleasantness to their stay, and peace and joy. Until then, someone else will need to host. I’ll bring the drinks.

LaMonique Hamilton Barnes is a reporter and copy editor for The Enterprise and The Wilson Times. She blogs about arts and culture at iamlamonique.com.

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