In his popular TED Talk, “Be a Hospitalian,” Bobby Stuckey, owner of the renowned Frasca restaurant in Boulder, Colorado, shares a humorous holiday story of trying to please one of his relatives while hosting Thanksgiving dinner:

Bobby’s talk highlights the critical difference between service (“What you do for someone”) and hospitality (“Changing how they feel”).

His point: From serving customers in a 5-Star restaurant to hosting your neighbors for a backyard barbecue — while excellent service is important, authentic hospitality is the real difference-maker.

As many of us prepare to spend the holidays with family, Bobby’s message serves as a great reminder. There’s bound to be someone you’ll encounter this Christmas who rubs you the wrong way…  be it an opinionated grandparent, that crazy uncle, a know-it-all sister-in-law, or your cousin’s boyfriend who drives you nuts. Being a “hospitalian” means presenting the best version of yourself whatever the circumstances may be — or, as Bobby says, “Looking out instead of looking in.” It’s thinking of yourself less and putting others first, even those who irritate us.

So this Christmas, take a cue from Bobby: Before the craziness begins, put aside your need for affirmation and gratitude and commit to becoming a “hospitalian.”

And if, at any point over the holidays, you’re tempted to slip back into the lesser version of yourself, get out your Bible, take a deep breath and let the true message of Christmas, the true story of God’s intervention into our world that brought new life, hope and unprecedented access to the Creator of the Universe, soften you:

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

What was your experience celebrating Christmas with family growing up? Was there tension or peace?

How has that impacted your approach to celebrating the upcoming Christmas holidays and family functions?

How can Bobby Stuckey’s message of hospitality help you enjoy the coming days?

I’d love to hear your feedback. And Merry Christmas!