I'm crazy excited for you to read this guest post that Maeve Gerboth was kind enough to do for the Feast & Dwell blog. Maeve and I connected over Instagram through our mutual love of hospitality and the true meaning of the word - loving others, serving them, meeting people where they are at. I have been completely inspired by Maeve and her words and the way she writes them so beautifully (you can find her lovely website here!).
Along with Maeve's wonderful piece on embracing "less" during the holidays, I provided a soup recipe that's perfect for when you have a few people over and want to just throw some things in a pot, cuddle up with something warm and hearty, and have good conversation. You can find that at the bottom of the post, but for now, enjoy Maeve's words on making the holidays about what matters most.
Our home is small and boxy but it’s made for hosting because we vowed it would be. It was our anthem from the beginning. We said it outloud on a cold, bare floor while walking from room to room, bundled up in winter coats, praying for this space and how it might be used.
A table covered with food and rooms filled with people. That’s what we wanted. A refuge and safe landing. The willingness to meet our neighbors and know them by name.
We don’t do this perfectly but I hear it on repeat in my head, particularly on the days I choose convenience over connection and hurry over presence.
I fell in love with our home. I didn’t notice the creaky floors or cracks in the ceiling. I saw a space for gathering and a kitchen for making soup, while guests huddled at the counter eating snacks. I saw a porch for sipping my coffee and watching the neighborhood wakeup. I saw Gods abundance.
As time goes on and you begin acquiring more things, the cracks begin to show. I’ll find myself wishing for another bedroom for the kids we don’t even have yet. I’ll dream of a longer table and more storage space and a full bath downstairs. I picture a home in the country with more land and an outdoor patio with cozy furniture.
This isn’t my normal way of thinking. It just creeps up from time to time. Though I find right around the holidays, my heart does the same. The wheels begin turning and the pressure to hurry up and get things done feels heavy. I feel like I’m missing something. There is a weight in my shoulders, a need and desire to do and be more. What exactly “more” means, I’m not entirely sure. I just hear it, tapping quietly like a leaky faucet. The word lingers at my table. It follows me around as I cook dinner and clean the kitchen.
I notice everyone rushing to this store and that, to this party and that gathering, and I begin thinking I should be doing the same. When all I really want to do is cozy up on my couch with a cup of tea and thick novel. Or eat hearty soups and crusty bread with friends who’ve become family. My calendar looks empty and I wonder if I should be filling it with -- more.
I open our box of decorations and pull out each item. I take inventory, inspect each piece, and consider running out to Home Goods to stock up on -- more.
There it is. Whispering at me again.
I hear Christmas music in the car and it takes me back to last year, when our best friends lived with us for the month. Suddenly we’re together, sipping hot cocoa with Peppermint Schnapps and eating meat and cheese platters on a random Tuesday. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve talked and I feel it again. The tapping. I should really call them more. The word them turns into everyone, all the many friends and family who deserve a call or letter. I think of the Christmas cards we still haven’t sent.
Does this word more follow you around too? This feeling of keeping busy and available and cheerful. The frenzy of gift wrapping and Christmas cookies and parties.
Only when I get quiet and low do I find that the voice saying more isn’t actually mine. It’s not from my heart but somewhere else. The same place that holds striving, performing, and not enough.
I dig deep for a different word. Under the boxes and crates of lofty expectations and consumerism, I find less. How would it look and feel to do less? Because really, isn’t that the place we’re invited to this season? The days get darker and the air gets cooler, a physical reminder to slow down, be still, and rest.
And the moment we embrace “less” we find it actually offers more.
But not in the way culture promotes.
When we say no to running ourselves ragged we’re able to say yes to the needs in front of us and tangible ways to meet them. We’re able to pull the car over, walk up to the woman holding a cardboard sign, and ask this question: what would be most helpful for you right now?
When I fill my home with less stuff, there’s room for people and spontaneous hospitality and unexpected adventure. There’s time for inviting all the women I love over for soup and encouraging them to bring a friend and dish to share. And instead of a long, wooden table we’re scattered around the house holding plastic bowls, huddled close in the kitchen, and sitting on the floor. It isn’t the large, open gathering space in my dreams but it is the very thing we hoped for from the beginning; a table covered with food and rooms filled with people.
Something happens in me when I let go of the word more. Suddenly I’m granted margin and space and presence. I’m offered peace and a heart overflowing with gratitude. Opening my home feels less like work and more like love. And plastic bowls of soup turn into holy communion.
I find I’m already living inside abundance. I have all I need and even a bit more.
TURMERIC BUTTERNUT SQUASH & TURKEY MEATBALL SOUP WITH PARSNIPS AND KALE
- 1lb ground turkey (you can sub in beef or pork if you prefer)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 cup minced yellow onion (chop the rest of the onion for the soup)
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (I used these GF Panko breadcrumbs)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- Remainder of yellow onion (chopped)
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or GF flour)
- 3 cups diced butternut squash (you can use fresh or buy the pre-cut butternut squash and get two bags)
- 3 parsnips, peeled and sliced (or you can use carrots)
- 3 cups chicken stock
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 5 fresh sage leaves
- 1 cup whole milk
- 4 handfuls of chopped kale
*TIP: Make meatballs ahead of time and freeze. Then put them in the oven when you are ready to use them.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until just combined.
- Grease a baking sheet and divide meat mixture into bite-sized meatballs and roll into balls.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through. Set aside.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add in 1 1/2 cups of butternut squash, parsnips, chicken stock, turmeric, smoked paprika, cumin, salt, pepper, and sage leaves. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 12-15 minutes or until parsnips are tender.
- While veggies are simmering, place the rest of the butternut squash in a steamer and steam until tender. In a blender or food processor, blend the milk and steamed butternut squash until smooth.
- Add milk/butternut squash mixture to the pot and stir to combine. Next add your kale and cook until soft (you may need to add in several additions). Add in your turkey meatballs, stir to combine, and let cook for about 2 minutes to let all the flavors mix together.
- Serve hot and enjoy!