I love to host anything. I do believe this to be one of my gifts, to make anyone who enters our home or life, feel welcomed and loved. As I sit here writing this entry, my kids and about ten others are in our backyard playing, and every one of them feels like they can go in and out of the house asking for drinks, towels or just wanting to talk. Of course this gift also means that I attract the craziest of people. My husband says it is like people materialize from thin air and tell me their life stories. Seriously, we could be the only ones for miles, then suddenly, another person appears and sits right next to me. It can be funny and somewhat unnerving all at the same time.
But I love talking with others. I love hearing about what is happening, and I do believe I developed this love from being around my grandmothers. Both my grandfathers died fairly early in my life, so my grandmothers were the ones I could get to know. Even when we moved away, and I could not see them, I was attracted to those who could tell me stories. Because of this, I had a bigger perspective. Whenever I thought I had a problem, I would quickly realize that there was another who had a bigger problem than my own.
You see, hospitality is much more than what is being served and how the room is decorated at a dinner party. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important and have their place. Hospitality is how you make someone feel.
So what did I learn from my grandmothers?
1. Always have food on hand. In the early years, they always had cookies, punch etc. As the years progressed, and they began to slow down, the food was always Little Debbie Snack cakes with soda. Yes, I know, not very healthy but that is not the point. The point is, they were ready for visitors. They did not want to feel like they needed to prepare something when an individual arrived with no notice. My grandmothers could sit and enjoy their time with their guests, not work during it.
2. They loved no notice guests. In fact it made their day. Our generation is so full of schedules that we have forgotten the lost art of just checking in on someone. It means the world to someone, if you just drop by. How many times have we heard the phrase, “If you need anything, let me know.”? How many times has that person actually let you know? Now go and visit the person in need. What do you think you would discover? A person who feels cared for and loved, and now willing to reach out. I guarantee that you would not be putting anyone out by visiting them. Quite the contrary.
3. I learned to listen. Really listen. I would watch interactions and discovered that they would take turns talking, and then they would not try and outdo the other.
4. I learned that when you really listen, you gain perspective of life. Example: My husband was once gone for a very long time, and during this time, I visited my grandmother. I would sit with her on her back porch and she would listen to my troubles. I asked her if she went through anything similar, and she proceeded to tell me about her wedding day. She got married in the courthouse, and all the while knowing her new husband would have to leave for WWII the next day. It was two years before she saw him again, and had only two letters. One of which was 6 pages long, and the other was a letter telling her her husband had been wounded. Quickly, I realized that I can talk to mine everyday, and he was gone for half the time.
5. You learn how to love, even when you do not like the person or are even in the mood to be hospitable. I do not know how many times I have gained understanding of an individual just by hosting them at my home. I have realized that everyone has their baggage.
Hospitality can be superficial, or it can be life changing. It can be a burden, or it can show you others burdens.
Are we willing to go deeper?
Believe me, I am not saying I have this down, and there are many days I want to keep to myself and sit alone. There is a time and a place for that, so we can be renewed. But when I have opened myself up to what some would say to be “interruptions” my life has been changed.