Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hospitality in our Homes

In a gentler time, hospitality was a common practice. It was considered rude to not extend an invitation to your home or to treat a visitor to your home as a honored guest. The gift of hospitality is something that has been lost in many homes. I wonder, does it really need to be that way? Can we teach our children or maybe even ourselves how to extend hospitality with a grace that makes the visitor feel as though their visit is an important part of your day?

I am ashamed of the times in the years past when I did not offer the kind of hospitality to others that I should have. It is something that I find myself having to work on. Welcoming people into your home is not always an easy thing. We are so caught up in our own busy days, taking care of the tasks at hand, that we don't stop to think of inviting someone to our home to just sit and chat. Maybe our home is not kept at a "company ready" state where we would feel comfortable having someone just drop by unannounced. Some people are very private and don't like others stopping by and are much happier being left to themselves. Whatever the reason, these obstacles can be overcome with work on our part.

One of my favorite memories from my childhood was of the times I spent at my Grandmother's home. Each summer, I would spend a portion of the time off from school at her home. It was during these visits that she taught me many things about cooking and hosptiality. Grandma loved to have people visit. It did not matter if the visits were planned or unannounced, she was always prepared for them and accepted the guests with grace. Another influence on me at that time was our next door neighbor. She was a retired school teacher and quite elderly. She lived alone, so our family would check on her each day. Many times, my little sister or I would spend the night at her house on the weekends so that she wasn't always alone at night. She was another gentle woman who accepted inpromptu visits with grace. On the days that I would stay at her home, she would have an afternoon tea. We would make tea and have some little sandwiches or other treat. It was a time that we could sit down, relax and take a break from our activities of the day.

Showing hospitality doesn't mean that we have to set out a "high tea" each time a friend visits. We can easily sit at the table or comfortable chairs and have a cool drink on a warm summer day or maybe have that cup of tea or coffee. Hospitality has a great deal to do with our attitude. Do we welcome visitors with genuine feelings of being happy to see them or do we put on the good show and just go through the motions, glancing at the clock & thinking of all that we feel we should be doing? When someone comes to your door to visit, they are taking time out of their day and making the visit a priority. Do we feel in ourselves any appreciation for the fact that they made that visit a priority in their busy day?

Hospitality shouldn't be limited only to visitors to our home. When our husband returns home from work, do we show hospitality to him? Do we treat him in a way that makes him look forward to coming home each night? When he talks to us about his day, do we really listen to him or are we dividing our attention between him and a TV program or some other distraction? If an infamous person that you had respect and admiration for came into the home, how would you treat them? Would they get only a portion of your attention when they spoke or would you be focusing your attention on what they had to say? Would you gladly get them something to drink and maybe a treat of some kind to enjoy? Likely, you would drop everything and make certain that they were treated with respect, dignity, and a high level of hospitality. Knowing that we would be willing to do this for a stranger, why is it that we tend to make excuses or stiffen our backs when it comes to doing these things for our husband?

I have had it said that a woman who shows this level of hospitality to her husband is seen by some individuals as being subservient to her husband. Nothing is further from the truth! When we show hospitality to our husband, showing him that what he has to say is very important to us and that we are appreciative of the work he does to support the family, he will feel valued by us. He will gain a confidence in the fact that home is a place where he can come and know that he will be treated with respect and courtesy. He will find the home to be a haven and a calm place apart from the stresses of the world outside the home. One of the blessings that comes from treating your husband with such hospitality is that he will treat you with the same level of respect. It is true that if your treat your husband like a king, he will treat you as his queen. Sometimes it takes longer for some to treat their wife in this way, but eventually it can happen.

Hospitality isn't always easy. Some people seem to have the trait so much a part of them that it has become second nature for them. Others have to work harder at it. It does not matter who they are showing hospitality towards. I have a difficult time with it myself. I can show hospitality to my husband, but I am a very private person and unless I know someone well, I have a difficult time inviting people to our home. In my case, I have recognised that it is out of fear of being judged. I am much more conservative now than I used to be. There are those who knew me before who are against the changes that I have made. I am working on it though. It is definitely a step out of my comfort zone!

I find that as I take those steps towards showing hospitality to others more often, it is getting easier. Having a husband who is a "social butterfly" to my "wall flower" make it alot more achievable. Over time, I am beginning to feel more peace with the whole idea of hospitality. I have a long way to go yet. By and by, I will get there.

1 comment:

Susan Mueller said...

This is a great post on "Hospitality." I think it is a lost art that needs to be revived. Years ago I heard Greg Harris speak on household hospitality. He is one of the modern pioneers of the home education movement.

I love what you say about showing hospitality to our husbands. That is also almost a lost art.

Kindest regards,