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Faith's Firm Foundation: Hospitality: Pride or Prejudice

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hospitality: Pride or Prejudice

My Mom Showing Hospitality

Left to Right: Dane, Kelsey, my Mom, Jerry and his Dad

     Let me tell you about my mother.  My mom, at 88, is still one of the best hostesses around.  But, when I was growing up, you would have loved to visit our home.  Did we have a fancy house? No.  It was not fancy at all.  Were you served the most exquisite food you'd ever tasted? No.  She was a very good cook, but it was normal everyday fare.  So, why would you have loved to come to our house??  Because my mom (and my dad) would have made you feel so loved.  When you came to our home, you felt welcome with a capital W.
     When a drop-in visitor would arrive, my mother would say, "Well, who on earth can that be?" (From our living room, she couldn't see the person at the door, and usually people parked on the side of the house, so the first thing announcing a visitor would be the ring of the doorbell.)  So, she always spoke her wonder out loud, as she got up to see who was at the door.  But, followed very closely on the heels of that question would be the most genuinely warm and excited exclamation when she found out who indeed was at her door, "Oh! It's Joe!"  And she would rush to let you in, or tell one of us, if we were closer to the door, to let you in quick!  We had a very old and heavy front door with an old fashioned lock that you had to turn while putting your weight against the door, and then you had to pull the heavy thing towards you to open it and once having accomplished this, you entered the three-season porch, which would be very cold in winter, and there you had to unlock a second door, with two locks, which you might find locked or unlocked at any given time. (We lived in the city on a corner :) so this was just standard procedure)  But there was no thought of delay or letting you stand out there waiting while she checked the neatness of the room, or looked at herself in the mirror, or picked up anything on her way to the door. No.  She had only one purpose, and that was to open that door and give you a welcome that made you sooooo glad you came!  "Well, Joe, how are you?  Come on in!  We were just talking about you the other day! What brings you to this neck of the woods?  Come on in!  Would you like something to drink?  Have you eaten?  I've got some (here she would list off sandwich fixings, or leftover goulash, or whatever she had in the fridge, heading towards the kitchen unless you stopped her--surely you must be hungry!) "You'll eat a sandwich won't you?" You would be answering, or trying to answer, some of her many questions, explaining why you stopped, and how long, or short, you could stay, but there would be No Question in your mind that you were the most welcome thing that could have happened to my mother at that moment.  She didn't embarrass you by beginning to pick up her house, (her house was always pretty much picked up, with only one or two small items left out of place. But it wasn't fancy, or stiff in any way, shape or form.  And if it wasn't neat, she would just explain briefly with a laugh what we were in the middle of, and then clear a comfortable place for you to sit, and you would be the important thing again. The only notice she would ever give to the state of the house was to move something, if it was necessary, so that you could obey her prompting to "sit down and tell us all about yourself.  How's Joan?"  She would get the conversation going so effortlessly, sincerely wanting to know how you were.  While you were talking, and my dad was listening carefully, and now would be fully engaged in the conversation, she would disappear into the kitchen, bringing back coffee, perhaps water, depending on what was your answer to "What would you like?" and cookies on a plate, from the never-empty cookie jar, just in case someone stopped by.  If you had hesitated even a second in your answer to "Are you hungry? Have you eaten?" she would now be putting together a light lunch.  She always had sandwich fixings on hand (turkey or ham slices, cheese slices, bread, lettuce pieces, tomato slices--from her own tomato plant in summer)--and now would be placing them on small plates on a tray along with a little dish of mayo, the butter dish, a medium-sized dish of potato chips, a bowl of pickles, a plate of a little fresh fruit, perhaps a jello salad and the aforementioned cookies.  All would be brought out to the dining room table (our kitchen was about 4x5 feet) and set out along with her mother's china luncheon plates, or nice paper plates (I think this depended on how relaxed she felt with her guest, though you would never know the difference by looking at her!) and now she always uses paper!  Glasses and a pitcher of water or lemonade would be there, too; I always helped her.  Now she would call you to come and have a bite.  "It's not much, but come and have a bite.  Do you like salad dressing? I have a little mustard, too, if anyone wants that."  She would hover a little to make sure that everything you could possibly want would be offered to you, all the while also offering you options for seating: "Would you like a tray table?  There's trays there (trays for you to put your plate and glass on were first on the table before the plates), "but if you'd rather, I can get you a tray table.  There're coasters there on the table for you to use, but don't worry about that old table; we've had that since, when did we get that?  Well, anyway, don't worry about it, but if you want to use them, you can.  Is there anything else I can get you?"  She didn't pelt you with these questions, or talk in an annoying way.  Rather, she anticipated your every need, and was there with one or two options to satisfy it.  "Oh, here, I'm sorry, let me get you some ________."  "It's not much, but...."  And you would be quick to say, "Oh, no, it's wonderful!  Thank you so much!  You really shouldn't have."  And she would say it was nothing, and did you get some lettuce on your sandwich?  Then the conversation would flow again.
     When you had to leave, she would say over and over how glad she was that you stopped, and if you're ever over our way again, please stop in again!  And bring Joan next time!  And greet the rest of your family.
     When you had departed, she would say how nice it had been to see you.  She would tell everyone she talked to in the next couple of weeks about the nice surprise she'd had, "Did I tell who stopped by the other day?"
     You would leave feeling so warm inside.  You would have laughed and shared the good and bad of your life with someone who you knew was genuinely interested.  You would know that you would get the exact same treatment each and every time that you came, even if you dropped in unexpectedly.
     Pride didn't enter into her thinking. She simply served you. She had a few food items always on hand, and kept her house orderly enough, ready enough, for the possibility of "unexpected" company.  And she would not prejudge your motives in coming.  She would openly receive you and let your story unfold.
     You would have loved to come to our home when I was growing up.  You would have felt so loved.

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Blogger Wendy said...

Thank you so much, Deborah Ann! The relationship between a mom and child is something very special, no matter how old we get--I'm sorry about your mom; you must miss her very much. My dad passed away 20 years ago, and I know exactly what you mean about what you wouldn't give for 5 minutes with them again. I'm not sure that my dad was saved (we'll only know for sure when we get to heaven, won't we). Seeing saved loved ones again in heaven will certainly be unimaginably wonderful! Thanks again for your sweet comment! Faithfully-yours,

October 21, 2009 at 7:28 PM  
Blogger the W. family said...

We've really enjoyed these posts on hospitality Mrs. G.! The way you told about your mother was so fun to read, it felt like we were right there.
Alyssa for all the W. ladies :)

October 22, 2009 at 5:12 PM  
Blogger Wendy said...

Thank you, Alyssa! I'm so glad you're enjoying it! I've hoped this series would be a help to women and encourage them and help them to practice hospitality more--it's such a blessing to everyone when they do!
Mrs. G

October 23, 2009 at 9:59 AM  

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