The book, Open Hearts, Open Homes by Karen Mains was what first opened my eyes to fact that true hospitality is not about the HOSTESS…how nice her meal is, how perfect her table setting is, how lovely her home. It is about the GUESTS…are they being served, are they comfortable, do they feel a part of your home?
That book was given to me by a woman who taught me even more about hospitality from her every day life. She was a homeschooling mom with four children. Besides the children, she had chickens and goats to tend to. Her freezer was always stocked with something she could throw together to make a quick meal for drop-in guests. Her guest room was always ready for overnight company. In fact, at their front door was a guest book and pen where each person who dropped by their home was invited to sign and leave a note for the family.
However, hospitality in their home didn’t always mean idle chit-chats on the couch. She once told me she did not mind drop-ins if they didn’t mind following her around while she worked. If she was prepared for a guest, then she could afford to sit the entire time. If they came unannounced, she was thankful for their presence, but wanted them to understand that her conversation would be peppered with chores.
Another person I learned a lot about hospitality from NEVER made excuses for her messy home. She simply moved a pile off the couch for you and one for her and looked you in the eye and listened. She never failed to be able to rustle up some grub for her crew of 7 plus whoever showed up at her door. She once told me that if she was going to have to cook for 7, she might as well cook for 10 or 12. As a mom now cooking for 7 myself, I can say I wholeheartedly concur. It really is no big deal to add a few extra mouths.
So, that, my friends, is true hospitality…