Our door is always open. Drinks can be ready in minutes, and the kitchen is a place of problem solving, peace and love. Anyone who needs to chat is welcome anytime.
There may be laundry to be folded and housework to be done, but it can wait! I have food in the fridge and tea in the cupboard, listening ears, shoulders to cry on and love to share.
We will always be available… you are always welcome!!
This is an old value that is being lost to technology…a text, Facetime, or emoji is not the equivalent of making time for those we love or care about!
Could at least one friend please copy and re-post (not share)? We are trying to demonstrate that someone is always listening, you are never really alone.
A friend posted this today on Facebook. Except for the part that exhorts one to copy and paste, I loved it. (I don’t like being “expected” to copy something… at least they said “please”).
In the past, this friend practiced the art of hospitality when I was single, alone, and living in a foreign country. I started out as a “stranger;” we are now close friends. I watched their kids grow up, and am friends with them still. Invites for day trips to family beach outings were frequent. Once when I was dealing with an excruciating unexplained pain, her surgeon husband himself transported me to the hospital and saw I received good care. Throughout my Foreign Service career, home hospitality was central for most (having full-time housekeepers of course made that easier). In most third world countries, there are few places to gather in public, so dinners and parties abounded and were the way people socialized. People would sit around someone’s patio or living room until the wee hours of the night enjoying conversation, good food, drinks, and company.
Hospitality is becoming a dying “art” and that makes me sad. I am grateful I was raised this way and had my time overseas understanding what hospitality looks like. It was never a burden and more often a privilege. Growing up, invitations to dinner were routinely extended by my parents. Mother could whip something together, always ensuring there was double the food needed so guests never refrained from seconds. We kids were pressed into service serving guests drinks and snacks; setting the table and cleaning up; as bell hop; and other general welcoming duties. We loved it. We always had a guest room at the ready; and if there were more guests than rooms, my brother and I were expected to give up our rooms. I never recall being upset by this displacement; perhaps it was fun to sleep on the couch or in a sleeping bag in the family room. I’d like to think it was the joy of having guests.
As SJ and I searched for a new home, I always envision it filled with family and friends. I love to entertain and cook, and I love having good people around me. We will have a nice open concept living area and kitchen, with lots of counter space over which to linger (we’ve always found folks gravitate towards the kitchen (the “hearth”), and it’s always been the center of our home). There are bedrooms and baths enough for all our kids, and future grandkids.
Through the years, I’ve enjoyed extending hospitality. For new friends, SJ and I often invited people over to dinner at our home; we hosted church community groups, studies and gatherings. We welcomed our children’s friends, and made it a fun hang-out during the teen years when having them closer to home gave us peace of mind. Those who happened to be in our home at meal time were offered a place at the table. We routinely extended invitations for a place to stay. For my close circle of college friends, I’ve always loved hosting them at my home. First when I was single in a one-bedroom apartment; and later in the large home I shared with my hubby. Recently I’m back to the apartment (two bedroom) with plenty of room for guests. Fun Girl’s weekends are back, now that we all live closer. A pack of late 50-somethings sit around, eat, and happily yack for hours on end.
But what’s interesting to me, is that many people seemed uncomfortable or even embarrassed after the first or second invite. Hubby counseled me that I had to pull back a bit, because most people felt awkward that they could not/would not reciprocate. This baffled me and made me very sad, as truly I didn’t care that much what others did, or if they reciprocated. Even now that we live in a wonderful area for tourism and have extended invites widely, few have taken us up; a couple actually chose hotels and meeting at restaurants.
I’m not trying to toot my own horn or say I’m special… because hospitality selfishly makes me happy. It’s just that I don’t get how it’s changed. I don’t think we smell bad; and I know these people like us. Even accepting old-fashioned hospitality is on the decline.
I’ve several cousins in town. We’ve been here for about 18 months and yet to have an invite. I’ve extended invites multiple invites. There are many excuses and some apologies (some legit for those with busy schedules, families and younger kids). Hubby has urged me to pull back. It has made me sad. To my favorite cousin’s remark during a phone call: “we will work harder to get together,” I said “It better be soon, because in about 7 months we’ll have moved.” (In all fairness, this particular lovely cousin with half dozen kids and a hectic lifestyle invited our family to their home when we in town over holidays some years back, and showed lovely hospitality).
I recently had the chance to visit my 30-something niece, who I don’t get to see much anymore. She recently purchased her first home, and I knew she was rightly proud of it. I decided that while I was in her town, I’d make an effort to go visit her and tell her what a wonderful home she had (of course we all want to hear this; our first home is especially special, be it ever so humble). Now, she has the misfortune to live next door to some very tough looking alleged drug dealers. And she has two large pitbulls who terrify me (and hopefully the drug dealers). She politely exiled them into the backyard during my visit. She had earlier given me the idea that she had to be somewhere that afternoon, so my visit would be short, 30 minutes max.
The visit ended up more than an hour as we caught up and enjoyed reconnecting. She gave me the 10-minute house tour, as she told me of all of her plans to “finish” or complete renovations or organizing. I praised and complimented her home and her fix-ups (ignoring the lived-in state, which I never feel should be held against anyone or create a barrier to invitiations). We then stood either in her kitchen or living room, and talked. At no time during my visit did she offer me a seat, or a refreshment. At one point she opened the back door to show off her “fur babies.” The dogs are not trained, and they went wild with the presence of a stranger. One aggressively tore through the screen door and into the house, and immediately for me (a person who has been attacked by a dog in the past). It jumped on me, wove between my legs, and acted aggressive and wild. When I attempted to muster my courage and speak calmly to the dog, or pet it, it nipped and grew more agitated. I tried the command voice, “SIT!” to no avail. I was completely unnerved. For several minutes my niece only shouted wildly at the dog to stop; the dog didn’t listen. Panic was setting in for me as my efforts to seem unfazed and accepting of her “fur baby” were wearing thin. The dog didn’t have a collar to grab to lead off. I finally said, “I need to go to a room away from the dog, because I am very freaked out right now.” The dog merely followed me. Eventually she pulled it off and away… (To her credit my niece apologized and expressed understanding of my fear (in response to my apologies for freaking out and that I held nothing against her precious dogs), and admitted she hadn’t trained them properly for company. I tried to get my racing heart to slow down and smile sympathetically).
[Contrast this to an old friend’s family who prided themselves on well-trained dogs; although their collie was large—I know, and a more gentle breed—I loved that dog and felt comfortable around it, well, until it would stick it’s long probing nose somewhere I didn’t like. But there was a time that people would be horrified if their pet distressed a guest; the guest came first. We will shut our cat into a room if we have anyone visiting who is discomforted by cats.]
What are we teaching this generation about hospitality, which really is akin to “otherness?” I fear not much. I can only pray that my own kids, once in a position to have their own places and extend hospitality, will have something to look back on and model.
“Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2