Thursday, April 21, 2011

Simplistic Hospitality

 “My philosophy is that true intimacy and romance always flourish at tables, not on sofas. At the table you have the best eye contact, and that’s what it’s all about. People push their empty plates to one side and linger longer and longer at the table. Once, people used to move from the dining table to the couch. That was a disaster because all the intimacy they had built up disappeared and they had to start all over. A table is the most beautiful piece of furniture there is.” 
-Jan des Bouvrie Opzij
Part of being a keeper of the home is preparing meals for our family and other guests. I believe one of the most intimate ways to get to know others is over a meal. And in our culture, just about all events center around food! Some of the best quality time my husband and I get is over a candlelit dessert and coffee and similarly, some of the best conversations I have had with friends has been during a simple lunch or cup of chai in my breakfast nook.
Entertaining can be as casual or fancy as you (and your guests) are comfortable with but what matters is the love that you put into that special time you have together. I love to cook and try new recipes and the privilege of having someone over to my house to eat is a joy. Unfortunately, it seems less and less women are opening their homes and I’m not sure why. I imagine part of it is the busy lives we lead but I also think it is because so many of us feel inadequate to “host” an event in our home. The following hospitality starting points are summarized from the book “The Six Gifts of Hospitality” by Laurel S. Sewell and I would recommend you read this book because there is much more to gain than these quick tips:
  1. People like to eat, so have a good meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy but tasty, pleasing to the eyes, and enough of it!
  2. People are curious about how you live so show them through your house.
  3. People enjoy talking about themselves so ask questions that encourage them to share themselves with you.
  4. People like to to be treated special. If you know they like a certain food, try to have it for them.
  5. People want to feel comfortable so don’t constantly apologize for things - like “I’m sorry our house needs painting.”
  6. Your guests want you to feel comfortable too. Learn to take things in stride.
  7. People are the same the world around
  8. Although people are alike, they are also unique (I know this sounds like it contradicts #7 but I hope you see how both of these points are true.)
  9. Don’t forget some of the most important people that will eat at your table are the members of your own family. Don’t save your special fine china just for guests. 
A lot of these tips have to do with inviting others into our home but I love  that #9 is on the list. I look for any excuse to use my fine china - what is the point of saving it anyway?! We need to treat our spouse and children just as well (if not better!) than the guests we host in our homes. Hospitality is something we need to practice each and every day with our own family.
One of our family rules is that we always eat dinner as a family. Because Chase and I both work at home, we strive to eat every meal together as a family but that doesn't always work out. Even before Ellie was born, it was important to us to have time after work to unwind without the distractions of television and computers. Now that we have Ellie and another baby on the way, we recognize this importance even more and look forward to many memorable dinner conversations in the years to come. 

I hope this encourages you to open your home and to even show more hospitality to your own family as we each strive to love our husbands and children and fulfill our role as keepers of the home.

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