Have a friend over, already

A few months ago my husband, who is a pastor, met with a local therapist to absorb her wisdom on the issues facing our community. She mentioned that social disconnection is a reality many people face; people just don’t have as many social interactions as they did twenty or thirty years ago. Many of us are so busy with work, or our kids, or both, that we don’t seek out these interactions as previous generations did. Adding to that, we feel inadequate about our lives and homes, fearing that each must be perfectly tidy before we invite someone in.

Interestingly, my husband and I had just been talking about how we wanted to have people over more often.

“Let’s just have people over informally,” I said. “That way we don’t have to do a big thing of making the house spotless and cooking up a three-course meal we hope they love.”

And so, we’ve had people over. We have invited over friends for takeout pizza, or grilled cheese sandwiches, or just for a snack and a talk. It’s been nice to enjoy these get-togethers without the formality of a made-from-scratch dinner and the fervor of a whole-house scrub down before each visit. We do try to keep our living room, bathrooms, and kitchen floor tidy so that impromptu gatherings are less stressful: I still have a lingering belief that a house must be clean to be hospitable. But I’m letting go of certain ideas, too, like the one asserting that a home must be entirely spotless before anyone sets eyes on it. We’ve had people over with dirty dishes still in the sink, a playroom thick with toys and games in progress, and tables adorned with stacks of paper. And really, no one seems to care or know the difference — they want social interaction as much as we do.

As we enter the busy holiday season, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and disconnected. We get so busy shopping and party hopping that meaningful conversations can feel like rarities. One of the best anecdotes to this disconnection just might be reconnecting with a friend over a hot drink. Why add the stress of cleaning the whole house to the mix? Instead, put down the dust pan and pick up the phone — your messy house will be the perfect backdrop for good times with a friend.

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