It is high time that I get back to the Simply Living series! I've been slacking for about a month now and it just has to stop. Really, I must buckle down and make this happen.
Now that I've whipped myself into shape, here goes …
I decided it was time to talk a little about hospitality in this space. It seems to be an underused practice because when people hear the word "hospitality", they usually visualize someone like Martha Stewart or Ina Garten who whip up elaborate meals in 30 minutes and know how to set a gorgeous table with no effort. They usually recoil thinking that since they don't do things like that, they can't ever invite anyone over. They would want to hire a decorator to make their house 'magazine-worthy', spend two days cleaning it, and then hire a caterer.
(Let me let you in on a little secret … I know for sure that Martha has staff and I wouldn't be surprised if Ina does too!)
The good news is that these things - a well-appointed, clean house and good food - have little to nothing to do with hospitality!
Hospitality is really very simple. Well, I think it is anyway. It is simply thinking about what someone else might need before they realize they need it. Some people are great at this, but even if you aren't, it is something you can practice. The more you do it, the better you get at perceiving what others would benefit from. Food and a cozy bed might be involved, but I assert that the best hospitality stems from someone's desire to make another person feel welcome and comfortable. Making people feel that way can happen at your own home, but you can also invite them out somewhere. There's nothing that requires hospitality to happen within our own four walls!
Here's an example of hospitality that has nothing to do with food or a decorated, clean house:
Ken came home from work one day and Little (3-year-old) Aly said, "Daddy, will you sit down on the couch and let me comb your hair? You look really tired and if I comb your hair, you'll rest." As he sat down, she said, "Here's your slippers. I'll get a comb." That just might've been the best rest Ken ever had!
That is one of my favorite stories about our Aly and one that really points us adults in the right direction. She was only three, but she had a sense of perception about people, a sense of giving to others, and desire for both. She was hospitable even at that age. If we allow ourselves to be conscious of it, we can all cultivate it within us. The spirit of hospitality seems to be about organizing our lives and setting our hearts in such a way that there's always room for one more, always an extra place at the table, always an extra pillow, or listening ear. "Does it really boil down to my being organized?!" Only to a point … and thinking ahead a little.
As I alluded to earlier, most of us hesitate to have people over because our role models are on TV and we feel that we fall short. But really, all people expect from us is to feel desired. If we keep others in mind, we'll always be prepared. It doesn't hurt to have pantry staples and an extra pillow on hand, either! And if you aren't the housecleaning guru … don't let it stop you from inviting people to your home! People don't mind your dirt, but they will mind your lack of hospitality. And if it bothers you that your house is dirty, head out to the local coffee shop or diner! Just be hospitable!!