Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Party @ Jamie Jo's : Y'all Come!

As some of you have figured out, I live in a location with many missionary colleagues in close proximity. It’s my tradition to throw a big Christmas party every year. One neighbor loves to call me “the hostess with the mostest.” Sometimes I graciously thank her outwardly, while swallowing the ungracious responses that pop into my mouth. “Yeah, the most dishes to wash afterward, the most stains on my furniture, the most migraines the day afterward….”

When we were in Guatemala twenty-some-odd Christmases ago, I remember a certain hostess who fully expected young couples to hire a baby-sitter for parties at her house, which were clearly "for adults only." I used to take offense at her stance, but now I understand. I really do.

Equally clear is the memory of the family-friendly Christmas party I hosted that same year. I was aghast at one mother’s unruffled attitude as her son took a piece of chocolate cake and ground it into my rug with his little foot. She smiled innocently and said, "Boys will be boys" to which I retorted (with a less-than-genuine smile), "And mothers will be mothers and clean up after them!"

It's all well and good that children be allowed to be children as long as parents remain parents and don't leave the poor hostess such a huge disaster to clean up after the party's over. Within the missionary community, I'm afraid that isn't always the case, which is also why, I suspect, some people simply refuse to invite children into their homes. What a shame.

Now that I have no little ones of my own, I hope I have grown less peevish about spills and messes, but I admit I still need to work on my heart that cringes when children come over for parties. Too many memories.

Is it sinful pride that makes me crave a nice orderly house? Is it selfish to not want neighbor children to destroy my house? Or is it simply good stewardship to try to protect my belongings? After all, I know what agony we endured to find each and every piece of furniture and rug, which we carefully selected and brought from the city, and even the support necessary to buy them. I don’t know. There has to be a balance. All I have is a gift from the Lord, and on my good days, I acknowledge that it all belongs to Him. I want to claim none of it as my own.

Nothing challenges this resolve like a good old Christmas party. Next week I’ll have to have my head examined heart checked. Again. I just hope I can be gracious and not just act gracious. I hope the snarky remarks don’t even appear as a thought bubble over my head like in the cartoons.

IRL* The party is set for December 20. If you live close enough to come, you are welcome, kids and all!


  1. Ha! it's good to hear your perspective that you have, now that you are on the "other side" :-)

    If I were you and had a little kid grinding chocolate into my carpet with his mother right there, I would have gotten angry, too! I think that we as parents have a responsibility to teach our children what is right, including good manners and respect for others. If we allow them to do things like that with no consequences, we are just bringing them up to expect to be able to do whatever they want to! Not that my children are perfectly behaved. But I would hope that they are learning that we have to act in a respectful and kind way, and if we don't, there are consequences, which sometimes just means cleaning up after ourselves!

  2. You ought to do a post on "the worst things my (or another) child has ever done". We hosted the team leader for a neighboring country as he and his family were traveling through. Somewhere during the night, one of our boys decided, likely on a dare from his brothers, to um, pee, on the bed of the visiting child. Needless to say, I did NOT say "boys will be boys" and discipline to the offender and those who egged him on was immediately meted out. (And the host family's other child got revenge by projectile vomiting no less than three times during their visit, so it just was one of those... well... smile and move on days.)

    Still, I solved parties with kids by putting away our rugs, picking up things we didn't want broken, and then hoping for the best. But mine are still young enough that I haven't had a nice house yet.

  3. I'm on the "other side" - so to speak (sounds like I'm dead!), but I wouldn't go so far as to say I have a nice house. It's very rustic and very lived in. Not much anyone can damage any more. I like it that way.

    Ellie, thanks for your confession about your own child. Sorry, but I did laugh. Maybe next year we can put the question out for people to nominate their "worst ever" story. Even singles could nominate kids they have had contact with.

    A coworker's daughter once got red fingernail polish on a hostess's carpet while on furlough. That would be somewhere up there with yours.

    My own kids were naturally very well-behaved, so I might not be able to participate in this round. (Ha! Does anyone believe this one?)

  4. It's amazing how time changes our perspective, isn't it?

    It's the exceptional person who can see beyond her own stage in life!


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