I like New Year's Resolutions, but I'm tired of making the same tired promises to myself and then come February pretending I never heard myself say that. It took a little while this year to come up with a resolution I felt like I could stand behind, and I think I finally have it.
I want to live in a home where people come first.
There's a bit of a story behind this resolution—it happened several years ago. A person that I didn't know well but wanted to know better came to my door to drop something off, and I was caught off guard and terribly, horribly embarrassed by the state of my house. There was a pile of dirty laundry in my entry hall and that was the best part of what I had to show that day. We'd been on school vacation for a week and things had gotten rather out of hand. So, I stepped out onto my (covered) front porch to speak with her and closed the door on my chaos behind me. She's a good friend now, and she doesn't let me forget about that incident. In retrospect, I'm terribly embarrassed by my behavior that day.
Why? I didn't put people first. I didn't put aside my own discomfort and offer hospitality. I didn't keep a minimum standard of livability in my house for the comfort and enjoyment of the people that live here and our friends. I let the stuff and the messes come first. I liked this woman, but I was so paralyzed by panic and my own idea of "good enough" that I simply could not say "mind the laundry, want some coffee?"
I resolve for 2011 that people will come first. It's not about having a house where people can eat off the floor or where there are fresh flowers topping a shiny clean kitchen table or where you don't ever see a stray dog hair—it's about having a home where I can say "sure, come on in" and mean it—even when it's far from perfect. And I finally realize that I'm not going to get to the stage where I invite people into a model home. I live in a busy household, and it looks it, even at its best. Where I've had it wrong all these years is that I believed deep down that I could be better—that I *should* be better. You know, better? Cleaner, tidier, more organized, on top of everything, practically perfect in every way?
We live here. We should be clean enough for health, safety and comfort. Clean enough that the people who live here are happy in the space. Then we should extend the hand of hospitality to our friends, who would really just like a chair, a clean coffee cup and a good conversation.