It's another guest post Top 10 and this week it's from my Mom. When I realized I wanted to spend some time thinking about the art of hospitality, I knew who I had to ask. I remember being a little girl, helping her get the house ready for guests and feeling a sense of anticipation for all that the evening would hold. I loved every table cloth, every piece of china, every game she created for the evening's entertainment. How could I NOT ask her to share her top 10 this week??
By the way, when she's not vacuuming her floor for guests, Nancy G. Hill teaches English as a second language at the Civic Association, reads piles of books and dotes on her eleven grandchildren.
When my children were younger, if they saw me pull the vacuum cleaner out of the closet, they’d ask, “Who’s coming?”
10 Things I Wish I Had Known When I Started Having Company for Dinner in 1970:
- --how to cook
- --how to clean
- --how to bake
- --how to fry an egg
- --how to make cinnamon buns like my mother’s
- --how to shop for groceries
- --how to get stains out of tablecloths
- –how to make coffee
- --how to make small talk
- --how to finish vacuuming before the guests pull into the driveway
But here’s the funny thing: I could actually change that title to 10 Things I Still Don’t Know 40 Years Later! (Oh, wait! About ten years ago I learned how to make coffee. I still feel so grown up every time I measure those dark grounds into my coffee maker.)
As any good English teacher would, I looked up the definition of hospitality. I found phrases such as “generously providing care and kindness,” “cordial and generous treatment of guests,” and “receiving and treating guests in a warm, friendly, generous way.”
Oh, my goodness! No place there does it say that my couch pillows need to be fluffed or my silver needs to be polished! I can do this!
If, instead of a Top Ten List, I had been asked to offer a Top One List, I would have chosen this: The Top Most Important Thing in Offering Hospitality: Let us each use the unique energies and giftings God has given us. I’m not going to think you’re showing off if you use delicate linens, elegant vases filled with fresh flowers, and crystal stemware. I will savor it and delight in every exquisite detail. At the same time, you will accept my love-offering of wild daisies in a horseradish jar with a plaid ribbon tied around it. Or, in the autumn, candlesticks made out of cored apples, and orange and brown dishcloths (3/$1 at the $1Store) serving as napkins.
We may do it differently, but the desire for offering hospitality is the same: receiving and treating guests in a warm, friendly, generous way.
Top 10 Things I Still Have to Say to Myself When Company is Coming:
- It’s not about impressing others; it’s about blessing others.
- On the other hand, you’re not “showing off” when you use the energies God has given you.
- Don’t take yourself so seriously. Learn to laugh at yourself when the rice clinks on the dinner plates.
- Don’t be afraid to accept your guests’ offers for help--hand them an apron or dish towel. Laughter is more spontaneous, and small talk is easier, when hands are busy.
- Don’t feel intimidated if your guests’ hospitality style is crystal and yours is $1 Store.
- It’s not about offering a show place; it’s about offering a safe place.
- It’s not about proving that I’m an amazing cook/housekeeper/hostess/wife/mother.
- When showing off how grown up you are making coffee, don’t accidentally serve caffeine to guests “of a certain age.”
9. It’s not a requirement, but if—surprise!--the blueberry pie turns out to be delectable, that’s just an added blessing.
10. If the vacuum cleaner is in the middle of the floor when the doorbell rings…well, I still haven’t figured that one out.