Christmas Open House

  • Dec. 10, 2014
  • #8508

Join Joni as she remembers how her family invited their community into their home each year to celebrate Christmas with the Earecksons. 

Christmas Open House

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada with a Christmas thought about hospitality.

That’s a great word for the Christmas season — hospitality! You know, my mother certainly understood the influence she could have with our community through a little Christmas hospitality. You see, even though I was just a little girl, every holiday season I always looked forward to the Eareckson’s open house. Mother and Dad always planned it on Christmas Eve, late after church. My sisters and I, weeks ahead of time, were always charged to decorate our home for the open house and we’d have the best time stringing popcorn, decorating the tree and taping up people’s Christmas cards here, there and everywhere. It also meant putting extra leaves in our big dining room table — and decked out for Christmas, that table was almost 20’ long. The week before Christmas, my mother would begin preparing for the big night — polishing the silver and the platters and the candlesticks. And bless her heart, she hand-delivered personalized invites to all of our neighbors, her favorite check-out people at the food store, the ladies at the cleaners, the guys at our community drug store, her friends at the PTA, all the elementary school teachers who taught my sisters and me, and, of course, folks at our church.

She did this because she had the gift — the spiritual gift — of hospitality talked about in Romans chapter 12, verse 13 where it simply says, “Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” And on the night of the open house groups of people would come and go; and there was always music, candlelight, the scent of pine, hot cider, and on that big dining room table platter after platter of cheeses and meats, finger sandwiches, meatballs, cheese balls, nuts and punch, jell-o salads, breads, and a big sliced ham sitting at the end of the table where, of course, Daddy would stand do all the carving. There were lots of cozy alcoves for guests to sit with their plates, and no open house was complete without singing Christmas carols. It seemed that everyone in our little village of Woodlawn came to the Eareckson open house, and although it really blew the food budget for the month, my mom knew that many hearts of these community and neighborhood friends could be softened to the Gospel through her hospitality. And to this day, when I'm back in Maryland, I still run into people who talk about the Eareckson’s open house on Christmas Eve. And yes, we’d wave goodbye to the last guest as late as sometimes two in the morning.

Now, I realize that things are different nowadays; we live more isolated lives, food is more expensive, our time is limited, and who has a table that’s 20’ long. But my mother would say that during Christmas time, homespun hospitality is the best way to reach your community and neighborhood for Christ. Still think doing an open house is too much? Well, maybe that’s why First Peter chapter 4, verse 9 says, “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” Oh, and by the way, if you’d like to place a fun Christmas dessert on your open house table, drop by my radio page today. You can reach us on your tablet or on your Desktop or on your Smartphone. Just go to my radio page at and ask for your free copy of my yuletide log dessert recipe, and you can post it on your Pinterest page. It’s festive, it’s fun to put together, and that dessert is going to look great on your Christmas table. Again, that’s our radio page at And thank you, friend, for letting me share with you today a favorite holiday memory about my mom — the woman with the gift of hospitality.

© Joni and Friends

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