A View From The Mesa: Resolve to rest, relax, reconnect

With just two more days left in 2011, I think I have just about landed on my New Year's resolution.

The week before Christmas, my boyfriend was sick and we skipped out on several holiday celebrations to lie on the couch and do nothing. I was disappointed to miss out on the boat parade and partying with friends and yet while we caught up on ocean documentaries and I wrapped presents in an attempt to feel productive, I had a revelation, which leads to my resolution.

What I realized is this: If you are home, people will visit you. As I sat on the floor putting bows on gifts, my boyfriend still on the couch, a friend stopped by to check in. All three of us ended up sitting on the floor petting my dog, listening as my friend shared her immigration woes. We listened. We laughed. We caught up and when she left, I think we all felt better.

That same week, while lying on my boyfriend's couch watching yet another movie, his neighbor popped in to bring us beer. The next night my neighbor invited us over for tamales, and we spent 30 minutes swapping holiday traditions and drinking hot apple cider.

What started as a bummer of missing out on all the fun activities turned into several relaxing evenings of rest and catching up with friends. This has never happened to me the week before Christmas.

I am pretty sure it happened because I was home with no agenda and not running around the city trying to do it all, which leads to my resolution: Make fewer plans.

My resolution is to not schedule every minute of my day but rather leave space for visits, spontaneous dinners and lying on couches. I would like to have room in my life to say yes to last minute invitations or extend them myself. I would like to be in my home to welcome others in when they come by.

There is a Mexican Christmas tradition we celebrate in our neighborhood that sealed the deal for me on my resolution.

Las Posadas is a nine-day celebration that reenacts Mary and Joseph's search for lodging. Neighborhood children dress up like the Holy Family and neighbors walk from house to house knocking, asking to be let in.

We sing a song, turning the family away at every house until you get to the host for the evening. At the host's house we sing a glad song welcoming the family (and all the neighbors) into the home. We share champurrado, a thick, hot-chocolate-type drink, and cookies and mix with neighbors we rarely cross paths with.

This year, on the last night of the celebration, a dance troupe came out and we literally danced in the streets because there was no way we were all going to fit in one family's apartment. I stood in the street holding my neighbor's baby, catching up on her life. As we hugged goodbye she whispered, "I miss talking with you."

And so I resolve to be the house that sings the welcoming song. I would like the whole of 2012 to be the way that 2011 ended for me — marked by hospitality both extended and received. Stop by any time, the chances of me being home are better now than last year.

CRISSY BROOKS is co-founder and executive director of Mika Community Development Corp., a faith-based nonprofit in Costa Mesa, where she lives.

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