When we were younger growing up in the town of a small midwest farming community, our parents took a trip out of state for a week. I can’t remember why or where, but as a result we children were fettered out to different townsfolk’s homes to stay while our parents were away.
Twinsie and I were very young, and we got to stay at the retired couple’s home across the street from our house. I remember twinsie and me waking up every morning in their guest room with a summer breeze lifting the sheer white curtains, and Mrs. W sitting in a chair next to the bed, a hand on each of our backs, gently rubbing them. Twinsie and I were just 8 or so years old, but I remember asking her the first day if we were late for something (it was summertime and not a Sunday, so I couldn’t imagine what we had to be up for.) And she said, “No, honey, I just wanted to be here when you woke up so you wouldn’t be startled at waking up in an unfamiliar room.” I remember stretching lazily, and reaching over to twirl the back of twinsie’s thick soft hair for a minute soaking up all that love.
“I just wanted to be here when you woke up…” Mrs W definitely personified the word “hospitality”.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of having two good friends over for lunch. We work together, each of us nourishing the other with unique blessings.
I made homemade bread, and as gifts gave each some bread dough to bake for their families. In Biblical times, making bread (and sharing it), cooking a meal, serving wine all were the hallmarks of hospitality, as was washing feet, which I interpreted as making a drawing of each of us with our dogs and putting them on old bed springs that held an air plant. These served as place cards and a gift to take home to enjoy and remember. I think it was a little more comfortable for them to accept this over a foot washing.
Rick’s and my decorating style is vintage/antique/colorful/quirky/life-memory style. So, as a throwback to the midcentury era, I served up some brandy alexanders for dessert, and in honor of my Catholic friend, a Mediterranean fish dish and asparagus. I make an accounting of all this, because, though it was all very simple, it was taking into consideration each of us, and how we blend together in one lovely lunch — one lovely memory.
I learned this from Mrs W, as she served each of us something special that she knew we’d love — it was nourishing, it was thoughtful, it ended in something chocolate.
Our mother was a talent at making guests feel welcome in our home, though, with six kids about it was a very stressful time for her, yet looked effortless as we all greeted each guest when they entered our home, always greeting at the door, always. I can’t remember looking forward to anything more than having the cuzzies and aunts and uncles come into town to be our guests, or heading out to their homes in other states to be theirs.
I see Rick making the same efforts, and I think even more thoughtful choices than mine — maybe — about the guests who will be coming to visit, and hopefully, stay a couple days. He personifies “hospitality”, as does his entire family.
What a beautiful thing to be treasured in such a way, as to be served a meal, some wine, a very strong brandy alexander (sorry about that Deb and Mo) and friendship on a sunny spring day.
A couple weeks ago, Deb, and her rescue dogs, Bertha and Maggie, had me over, for cheesy, gooey, nummy quiche and a lovely wine, that just so happened to be my favorite and she had no idea. It was a thoughtful and sophisticated meal much like my friend.
Next time, we will all gather at Mo’s house, and it will be light and laughter, welcoming, wholesome, and beautiful like she.
I didn’t say grace aloud at lunch, because one of my friends simply isn’t a grace sayer, but I did say a silent prayer thanking God for the gifts of friendship, memories, and hospitality.