No matter what message you are about to deliver 

somewhere, whether it is holding out a hand of 

friendship, or making clear that you disapprove 

of something, is the fact that the person sitting across 

the table is a human being, so the goal 

is to always establish common ground. 
-Madeleine Albright 

The holidays are a special time to come together to the table. The wonderful traditions and memories flood my mind…the smells, the sounds, the comment made by a relative to another that exploded into a full-blown debate! Sometimes the table can become a contentious place…a little too much wine and things are said that may have been better if they were not especially in our current social times.  How can you bring the heart of hospitality to your table and keep the dialogue flowing safely? Let’s start with the origin of the word hospitality…hospitalis which is also the Latin root of another word, hospital…the place for healing. Rather than putting all the focus on the food, spend some time focusing on the mood. Put people at ease by dimming the lights and using candlelight, choosing foods that are comfort foods of your gathering, and adding niceties like a handwritten name card which signals, you have a place at my table. Finally, it is essential to call everyone together into an act of connection…a shared prayer, poem, or moment of silence to signify union.  One tradition I like for special meals is to have a votive at each place setting.  Instead of a formal blessing, we go around the table, lighting our candles and offering a wish, a gratitude or memory of someone we would love to have present at the table.  Our dinner conversations have been transformed by this simple ritual and immediately all are lifted to a union that truly makes the meal a blessing.  Come to the table with courage…with heart…and find ways to transform what happens in your healing space.

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