What Our Blessed Mother (and My Sister) Teach Us About Hospitality

My mind spun as I watched Abigail set the table for Thanksgiving Dinner. Her house was bursting at the seems – cousins, siblings, spouses, grandparents and great aunts shuffling around on walkers. Everyone was dressed for the occasion, wearing wide, delighted smiles. So much life, I thought as I glanced at Abigail (multitasking like a ninja) all because of her

I continued to reflect, as I do often, how much my sister’s generosity echoes our Blessed Mother’s ‘Yes.’

She doesn’t have to host, but she always does, I pondered Abigail’s way of opening her rambling farmhouse for holidays and baby showers and cousin sleepovers (with up to 14 little girls at a time!). Even when she’s just had a baby or suffered a tragedy, she opens her home. And those are just the challenges I’m able to see from my limited point of view. I’m not privy to her checkbook or how it’s probably stretched thin, raising a family of nine kids on a single income.

She always says ‘Yes,’ my mind whirred as I watched her literally (not merely figuratively) balance countless plates in the air, gracefully, with the perfected skill of a dancer. Meanwhile, cousins caught up on comfy couches and uncles chatted by the crackling fire. Grandmas swooned over babies as Abigail worked tirelessly, but always with a smile on her face.

Now I know what you’re thinking. That Abby’s an extrovert who can’t say “No.” But that’s not the case at all. She’s an artist and a writer, someone who “recharges” in the quiet. Like Our Lady, Abby’s ‘Yes,’ costs her dearly. Regardless, year after year, she makes the choice to step out of her comfort zone, to sacrifice her sleep and her money and her time, saying ‘Yes’ to the crowd,‘Yes’ to the difficult personalities, ‘Yes’ to the often thankless chores of home and food preparation, ‘Yes’ to the always thankless chore of cleaning up after 30+ people.

“What time did you get that monster in the oven,” I nodded at the enormous turkey roasting golden brown. 

“Not telling,” Abby smiled, just as Jesus stopped by. I shouldn’t have been surprised. He has a thing for Abby’s house and visits all the time. This year, he arrived in the eyes of my niece, a beautiful girl with special needs. A child whose parents have struggled to raise her, but who experienced the joy of sharing her remarkable progress with the extended family. Jesus also edged into a conversation I had with my great aunt. A snippet of wisdom. A glimmer of understanding about forgiveness and what it means. Joyce held it out to me as serving platters were passed. I snatched it up and will carry it forever. 

All because Abigail said ‘Yes.’

Because of Our Blessed Mother’s ‘Yes,’ Jesus lived within her. He shared her flesh, stretching and kicking, raising a holy ruckus within her womb. In a similar way, because of Abigail’s endless streams of ‘Yes’s’ — offered like Our Lady’s with measures of joy and sacrifice — Jesus lives within the walls of Abby’s beautiful farmhouse all the time, but especially on holidays when family gathers to reconnect in a special way, with one another and with Our Lord.

“Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to thy word.” Luke 1:38

image: Alex_Po / Shutterstock.com

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Sarah Robsdottir writes from the mountains of Pennsylvania where she and her family are often found stomping through creek beds and wooded glens, seeking out the wonder. Visit her at www.sarahrobsdottir.com  

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