First things first

Last week I hosted my first holiday at my house. Usually Christmas is spent in Ankeny, but at my sister’s house. This year, since I have my own house, it was my turn. And I learned just how woefully unprepared I was to host any sort of gathering at my house.

I live alone. I use what I need and I’m not used to anticipating the needs of others, at least not at my house, beyond getting them a drink and a snack. “Rena, get a basket for the bread,” was met with tears of laughter (from me) at the thought that my dad just assumed I had a basket sitting around just waiting for its chance to hold a loaf of fancy bread. I improvised with a plastic mixing bowl because I’m classy like that.

In fact, I improvised a lot of things that day. I didn’t have enough chairs, or an extra table to put the food on, since my dining room table is teeny. I didn’t have fancy bowls for the jelly, or special serving utensils. My plates didn’t match, although I did manage to find 7 matching forks. My dad wanted wine, and he got it…in a water glass.

But it didn’t matter. We still had a wonderful Christmas. Sure, some parts were patched together, and it didn’t look as pretty or polished as those magazine spreads or movie scenes, but it was ours. And now I have a better idea of what I will need before I take on the challenge of hosting again.

This year has been a crazy year of firsts. I started the year by accepting my first book deal, which came with its own myriad of firsts. I accepted a promotion to the supervisor position at my job, which is a first in a way. I bought my first house, dealt with my first home repairs, bought my first new furniture (I lived a little like a hobo for a while), hired my first accountant, attended a new church for the first time in a couple years…so many new adventures.

And not all of them went perfectly. Anytime you enter into something new, try something for the first time, there’s no way to be fully prepared. You can read things, make lists, do research, but in the end, the only way to be ready is to DO THE THING. I’ve had to improvise constantly throughout the year. Patch together situations, think on my feet, deal with situations I didn’t feel fully prepared for.

Despite the bumps along the way, every first this year has been amazing. Are there things I will do differently next time? Absolutely! I learned a lot about myself, about the way things work in all areas of my life. But I still wouldn’t trade those first experiences. Even the bad ones. (Okay, maybe some of the bad ones.) Every experience contributes to who I am, and who I will become.

This coming year will be filled with many more firsts. My first book release day, and every first that comes with that. I don’t even know most of the firsts that will come, which is both terrifying and exciting.

When I think about this point last year, I would NEVER have guessed I would be where I am now. If you’d asked me, I would have predicted that I would still be in my apartment, still working as a school-based therapist in my same school, and, if I was dreaming, I would have suggested that maybe I would have a book deal. MAYBE.

2015 was a good year. Not because of all the things that happened, but because it was a year of growth and change. Some of that growth and change was painful, some was delightful. I had some really high highs, and some of the lowest lows I’ve experienced in years. I think that’s why I have a hard time at this point in the year when everyone is talking about how horrible the year was and how they can’t wait to get to next year. My guess is that next year isn’t going to be much better if you can only see the negative from this year. And yeah, I realize that I’m speaking from a place of having had an overall spectacular year. But I’ve had difficult years too. Really difficult. And I would never want to get rid of them or forget them.

Each year is full of firsts and lasts, ups and downs, tragedy and possibility. When challenges arise, I encourage you to do what I did for my Christmas dinner: Improvise! You never know what might happen 🙂

Happy New Year, my loves! See you next year!



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2 Responses to First things first

  1. Jess Witkins says:

    We live the farthest from most our family, so we often get out of hosting, but my book club rotates who hosts each month so I host a dozen of us then. I should mention I’m the youngest in my book club by about 15-20 years. I love them all dearly and have a blast, but I feel so inadequate when they come over as many of them are retired with grown children. Their houses are beautiful and decorated with every season, they have matching dishes and fireplaces! We sit on a mix of furniture in my livingroom, a few kitchen chairs brought in. Most of my serving dishes are mix and match – some from college days, a few nice pieces we received as wedding gifts. And the most fun thing I can offer them is a wide variety of wine charms!! LOL

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