On Sunday, while my parents were here, we went to visit my Aunt Jane. She isn’t actually related to me, but I’ve grown up always knowing her as “Aunt Jane.” 🙂 She was one of my grandmother’s best friends and has loved my mom since she was born and in turn has loved me since I was born.
While we were visiting with her on Sunday, she made an offhanded comment about hospitality when she was my age. She mentioned inviting new people over to her home for tuna fish salad or bologna sandwiches. They were poor and all their friends were poor, but it was never about eating gourmet dinners. It was about spending time together. Living together in community. Sharing what they had. Not being embarrassed if their home wasn’t the best decorated or the cleanest. She talked about how it was such a simple time.
My head was spinning the whole time she was talking. I thought about how I scrub every inch of my house when people are coming over for the first time. I thought about how I stress over making a meal that everyone will not only enjoy, but LOVE. And I thought about how the only one putting all this pressure on me to do these things is… myself. My thoughts were still in a jumble until earlier this week when I was reading Angela’s latest blog post. She shared a quote from the book Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist which I am in turn going to share with you guys:
“But entertaining isn’t a sport or a competition. It’s an act of love, if you let it be. You can twist it and turn it into anything you want—a way to show off your house, a way to compete with your friends, a way to earn love and approval. Or you can decide that every time you open the door, it’s an act of love, not performance or competition or striving. You can decide that every time people gather around your table, your goal is nourishment, not neurotic proving. You can decide.” (page 195)
After reading her post, I realized how much I resonated with it. I honestly cannot imagine serving bologna sandwiches to a group of people the first time they enter my house. But why not? Maybe not bologna, but what about the staples I do always have on hand? Like a turkey sandwich or granola. Simple. More concerned with being together than preparing a feast.
I will say I am pretty lax about cleaning/cooking when it comes to people who are at my house frequently. Our closest friends, family, and my teen girls have all seen our house when it isn’t perfect and eaten what I had on hand that day. But the first time someone comes to visit our house, I really do go way overboard with trying to be sure everything is perfect.
I do love to cook. I don’t plan to stop making a delicious meal for days when we have company, but I want to be better about inviting someone who is hungry home at the drop of a hat. Even if it means that they see my house when it’s messy and are stuck eating turkey sandwiches with us. Because it really is about relationships and community, not just the food we share.