A Change in Focus
It is December 21st and my focus is shifting from AwakeningSoul year-end finances to welcoming family and friends into our home for the holidays. Our child, their partner, and our new grand-dog, Basil, should be headed south on I-75 in Ohio by now. I have put clean sheets on their bed and fresh towels in the bath. Now it is time to head to the kitchen to make a pot of Ren's Favorite Potato Soup . Around here, soup and a piece of fresh from the oven "daddy bread" is the definition of coming home. Check out the link for the soup recipe - sorry I can't include a recipe for Alan's daddy bread as the baking process is ever evolving.

Food allergies and preferences have made the process of making folks feel welcome more complicated in recent years. Gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, pescitarian, vegan, keto .... are all part of the dietary restrictions of those we love. I don't know about you, but, I always try to make sure that I have at least a few items that each person at my table can/will enjoy.

A dear friend who is with us every year for Christmas has just been diagnosed with lots, I mean LOTS, of food allergies. I have checked the list and have figured out that one of my favorite new sweet treats contains no "bad" items. He will be getting a big bag of Coconut Clusters for Christmas - they are dairy-free, gluten-free, and processed sugar free. Check them out.
Hospitality - An AwakeningSoul Perspective
I approach hospitality for AwakeningSoul the same way I plan for family. In fact, I look on both the AwakeningSoul staff and all of our participants as family. Whether planning for staff meals the days leading up to AwakeningSoul or for our evening hospitality spreads I want to include family favorites and I want to make sure that everyone has something tasty to eat.

Earlier this year, when I described the shopping and cooking Alan and I do in preparation for AwakeningSoul a friend asked, "why do you do all of that?" We do it in hopes of creating a welcoming space for the entire AwakeningSoul family. In my role as AwakeningSoul "mom" - this is important.

Staff favorites include:
  • The potato soup without the half and half so our vocalist can eat it.
  • "Nurturing Ann's Bean Soup" in it's vegan form so that everyone can enjoy it. I have never had anyone say "oow, ick - it's vegan"
Hospitality favorites:
  • My mom's Curry Dip for vegetables, I have already sent this recipe to a number of AS participants
  • Alan's Pimento Cheese, last year we didn't serve this on opening night and people asked me, "Where is Alan's Pimento Cheese?"
  • and a 2019 addition, Dairy Free Curry Chutney Cheese Spread. This Christmas it will be made with cashews instead of almonds.

I have noted variations on most of these recipes to help accommodate for dietary issues. I hope that some of these will become favorites for you, too.
An AwakeningSoul Challenge
Fran and I have spent many hours reviewing the videos from our recent time with Barbara Brown Taylor, Jacqui Lewis, and Larry Maze. The presentations and conversations were inspiring, challenging, and so wonderfully rich. Soon, we will be sharing clips from the weekend.

As we reflect on their messages, we want to invite you, challenge you, to share your holiday hospitality beyond your immediate circle. Share a cup of tea, a bowl of soup, a favorite cookie with a neighbor - a stranger - and get to know just a bit of their story. In these times of great division, it is the sharing of our stories that just might help us see the humanity in one another.

If you will have some quiet time to read this holiday season, we invite you follow Jacqui's suggestion to read something by an author of a culture different than your own. Again, understanding the story of the other just might help us find a way forward together.
From My Family to Yours on this Cold Winter Solstice -
May You be Blessed Today and Into the Coming Year, with Great Gratitude and Appreciation, Ann
AwakeningSoul Is the collaborative partnership of Fran McKendree and Ann Holtz. Fran is a gifted musician based in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Ann is both a spiritual director and an independent consultant. She lives in Waynesville, NC. Together they have formed AwakeningSoul to offer spiritual events to feed hungry souls. Ann can be reached at annawakening@gmail.com or 865-414-8509 .