Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hospitality

Hospitality is something I struggle with.  Don't get me wrong, I love having people over, but the heart attitude of hospitality is what I struggle with sometimes.  I usually don't struggle with hospitality when I have planned to have guests over or even have unexpected guests that we know well.  It is often the "unexpected" guests who I don't know well that I struggle knowing how to be hospitable with.

Here is a "picture" of one of the most hospitable people I have known.  She was my neighbor when I was growing up.  Nona was the grandma of the home, she loved kids, and she had immigrated from Italy in the early 1900's.

When I went to their home and knocked on the door I was always greeted with "Come in, come in".  She didn't talk to me in the doorway or have me wait outside while she called her granddaughter to come and see who had come to visit.  She was always offering me a drink or something to eat.  If she was cooking she always wanted me to try a bite of it.  If I was there close to meal time she always invited me to join them for dinner.  She loved me as if I were her own.  She always told me I could "stay longer" when it was time for me to leave.  I don't think she ever had a cross thought about "that neighbor girl" coming over again.  She always made some kind of baked good for my family at a holiday, too.


I had a wise mother who didn't let me visit too often and wear out my welcome.  She also usually told me what time I needed to be home and it was always a reasonable time, before they would be serving dinner. (Thanks Mom.)


Here's what it looks like at my home.  When someone knocks on the door, I don't think to promptly invite them in.  I am often slow to answering the door as it seems they like to come visit while I am nursing.  So they ring the doorbell multiple times or knock several times before I can get there.  I don't like to have my kids answer the door every time, because they don't seem to know what to do when they answer the door even though I have tried to tell them and show them.  When I answer the door, we may stand in the doorway and visit before I invite them in or I may say it isn't a good time and turn them away politely after greeting them.  I rarely think to offer anyone a drink, they either suffer through their thirst, ask for a drink, or get their own.  If I am serving a snack to my kids I ask if they would like one too, but if it is close to dinner I often wait to work on it, because I don't want to be rude by telling them it is time for them to leave.  I am often eager for any guests to leave so we can get on to straightening up for Daddy before he comes home from work or so I can get dinner ready.  Sometimes when we have guest(s) I feel like I have to constantly be watching what is going on between them and my children, which is good, but it is something I struggle to do with a good attitude.  I seldom ask anyone to stay for dinner, but often wonder if I should be asking them.  If I should ask them I think we would have guests for dinner several times a week.  At the end of the day I am tired and not at my prime.  I'd like to see and talk with my husband when he gets home and that's sometimes hard to do with our children who love him and want his undivided attention right away.  When we have guest(s) it is even less likely.  I often have to ask our guest(s) to leave whether its in the morning, afternoon, or evening.  Sometimes I struggle to know whether I am being selfish with my family and time or if I am giving and have already given enough.  Sometimes having guest(s) makes me weary and mentally worn as well.  I want to be available to the children who may wish to visit.  I want to be able to show a Christ-like attitude to them, but I don't really have a clue, how.  I feel so rude when I have to tell them it is time for them to leave.

Hospitality is something I'm working on, but if anyone has any tips for hospitality or remembering how to be hospitable when someone unexpected arrives I'd love to hear your thoughts.


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6 comments:

  1. What a sweet lady you had for a neighbor! A very good example of hospitality, it sounds like.
    I think hospitality is more an attitude of the heart, than doing things just right.
    Unexpected company can be a difficult thing to juggle, especially with little ones needing your attention.
    Do you find yourself turning away someone who is in need? Or someone who's just wanting to 'hang out', just because?
    Sometimes, an honest word to a friend is exactly what is called for "my husband will be home soon and I need to get supper ready"
    You could brainstorm with your children and make a list of all the things you might be able to do to make visitors welcome and comfortable.

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    1. hsmominmo, thank you for your idea. Usually it is just someone wanting to hang out. I know that honesty is the best in any situation. That's what my Dad reminded me of, too. This morning I had to be honest with someone that the kids had invited to the library (which I didn't know about). We weren't able to go do to our kids needing to practice selflessness. I was able to tell her that I thought they would be able to play in the afternoon and apologized that we weren't able to take her to the library with us.

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  2. I can identify with both your admiration for the neighbor who made you feel so welcome and your own feelings of concern when someone drops by to visit you. I think some of it has to do with the gifts we each have. Even though we are all called to be hospitable, we will enjoy different aspects of hospitality and it will come more naturally for some of us than for others. But you're wise in pointing out that these wonderful examples can be our inspiration.

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    1. Gail, thank you for your encouragement.

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  3. I struggle in the same way! Guests often stay longer than I had intended and I feel selfish wanting them to leave so I can fix dinner for my family. I buy exactly what my family needs to eat each meal so if we have someone unexpected for dinner, I'm simply not prepared to feed them. That's horrible I guess. I struggle with how to live on a grocery budget, but be prepared to feed unexpected guests if I need too...I remember my Grandma cooking all day it seemed like and I think some people dropped by unexpectedly at dinner time just because they knew she would feed them. She is the most selfless person I know. But feel free anytime to tell us to leave! It won't hurt my feelings. ;)

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    1. Christie, I try to work in a few meals that have leftovers each week which would help feed someone unexpectedly if needed. You've not outworn your welcome yet, but I know that you would understand if I ever did need to ask you to leave.

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