the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
What does hospitality mean to you?
I asked my husband that question and he said “it means to be friendly to people you have welcomed into your home.”
Do you think we’re hospitable? “Yes” He replied.
Do we have people over enough? “No… (pause) but I don’t like having people over all of the time.”
But how can we practice hospitality if we never invite people into our home? Silence.
I’m the polar opposite of my husband…I like having people over. However, my excuse for not inviting friends over since moving into our cottage has been that 1) we are renovating and 2) it’s too small. But it has been three years this month since we moved! YIKES! Apparently having paint cans by the back door is reason enough for me not to reach out to a friend. (Now, Kittie! Shame is your name and avoiding people is your game!)
Growing up, hospitality looked like a pot of coffee and rocking chairs on the front porch. It didn’t involve a lot of time and money to make folks feel right at home… just a smile and a place to sit a spell. These days, most parents work 9-5 then hustle to drag kids from one event to another…kids aren’t playing in the neighborhood until dark because their schedules are too full! Now, hear my heart. I am NOT bashing after school activities; I encourage them… but what I discourage is having our schedules so maxed out that it leaves no room for creativity, downtime, and yes…hospitality. It also doesn’t leave time for mom and dad to spend time with their friends or one other on their front porch or at the kitchen table. They are too busy driving from one practice to another before hitting the drive-through on the way home… exhausted, depleted, and guilty because they’ve served take out to their kids three days this week.
On the flip side, when we do make time to have friends over (if you’re anything like me) you feel like you need to have the house looking like a picture right out of Magnolia magazine, with nothing out of place and a non gmo, organic gourmet dinner with six different flavors of JoJo’s cupcakes served on an wooden platter made by orphans from a remote country you’ve never even heard of! All this served at a well dressed table with fresh linens, hip china, and fresh flowers from a trendy florist two towns away.
Dude, I’m exhausted just typing that! Why am I trying so hard to impress them? Whatever happened to having a family come over and you served hamburger helper on paper plates with a glass of sweet tea? Is this gluten free? Is this paleo? I’m not eating carbs this month. I’m lactose intolerant. Geez (I am celiac, so I’m poking fun at myself here!) That is enough to make you never want to open up and invite anyone over. So, after ditching our dinner plans, we end up texting something like “OMG! I miss you! We have to get together soon!” But soon never happens. Friendship, real friendship, it dissolves and instead we spend our Saturdays liking their Instagram photos from our small living room as we drink coffee alone. In our PJs. Staring at our half painted walls.
How can we end this cycle of isolation that we’ve nurtured? We could step out and invite someone over for coffee but then there’s the whole rejection thing that stems from everyone being too busy to stop and invest in one another. Trust me, I get it, but I do long for the days when life was a lit slower and the days felt a little longer…when we made time to stop and ask “Hows ya mama n ‘dem” and really meant it.
Another component is our impressive lack of communication skills. I’ll be the first to admit that I am awful at small talk. I’m a GREAT listener, but that only works when I’m in the company of a talker. My cousin is a gifted talker…so is my oldest daughter. They can talk about anything to anyone and keep it going for about an hour before coming up for breath. AND I LOVE IT! I’m having a conversation without really saying anything. I just nod and smile. LOL. They walk away from our lil chit chat having said some things that they’ve been wanting to say and I walk away with having been their captivated audience. Now, if I invite a quiet person over, it isn’t very pretty. As a matter of fact, it’s downright ugly. Can you say “awkward silence?” Haha… bless our quiet little hearts! We walk away from our chat having said very little but hopefully we enjoyed the cup of coffee (as long as it caffeine free, fat free, sugar free, dairy free and cruelty free, right?)
I guess what I’m saying is that no matter the outcome, the effort exuded to extend the invitation is worth it because they’re worth it. You are worth it. I am worth it. So why not extend some hospitality to a neighbor or friend? Maybe someone who is new to town that your kid plays ball with seventeen hours a week? Maybe invite an empty-nester couple from church over for lunch after the service? Maybe plan to pack two salads and some sweet tea in mason jars for lunch and invite a coworker to join you?
By the way…I’m gluten intolerant, love coffee, and play well with talkers. 😉
If you are gifted with hospitality, or with the gift of gab…pour yourself a cup of coffee and drop me a line or two on what works best for you. I’d love to hear back from you!