Tuesday, October 28, 2014

day 28: hospitality...

When I was in my 20's and even in my early 30's, I loved having people over and setting the perfect table.  Entertaining, for me, was about serving people amazing food in a beautiful setting.  When I got married, I continued this tradition of entertaining beautifully.  I really found joy in having you over to a beautiful meal.

As our family grew (we adopted 3 children in 3 years) and our home got bigger, I still wanted to have people over but lacked the the time or energy to do it like I used to.  As a result of the changes in my life and my need to focus more on connection and community, my style of entertaining has changed and evolved in the past 10 years.

Gone are the days of meticulously planned tablescapes.  Gone are the days of multi-course meals served with the perfect wines and a fabulous handcrafted dessert.  Also, gone is the stress associated with the self-imposed perfection of those days.

It's not that I don't want my home to be perfect and the food to be delicious, because I do.  It's just that right now, having people over is more about the people than the food and table.  I'd rather make a big pot of soup, bake homemade bread and serve you store bought cookies (on a pretty platter), than spend endless hours trying to make everything look perfect.  I want to connect with you, not impress you.

Because, guess what?  Everything in my life isn't perfect.  My life is messy.  My kids fight.  My laundry isn't always put away.  Ok so truth be told, I never put my laundry away.  My husband and I don't always agree.  My home is lived in.  I'd rather spend time getting to know you and sharing my life with you than stressing about making my home presentation perfect.

Now, if you are one of those people who can both entertain beautifully and connect with others then go for it.  And, please invite me over.  I don't think it has to be one or the other for everyone.  But, I also think that there is a perception that you and your home have to be perfect before you can have someone over.  That thinking leads to isolation and I'd like to break that myth.

My husband and I recently decided we wanted to spend more time having people over.  That we wanted to be intentional with our desire to connect with others.   So once a month we are having Football, Food and Fellowship after church.  It is something that we hope grows into an afternoon of connection and community.  This past Sunday was our first and we had about 30 people, including kids, over.  We ordered pizza, instead of cooking, and invited people to bring a side or dessert.  Our kids had a blast playing with their friends and making new ones. 

What is your hospitality type?  Do you love to have people over?  Do you hate it?  Do you want to but don't because your home isn't perfect?

I'd like to encourage you to take the step and invite people over.  Just do it.  Maybe start small with one other family or one other person.  Don't go crazy redecorating your home, just clean it and put away the clutter.  If I haven't stayed on top of the clutter in my home, I pile it all up and put it in the laundry room.  Really, I do.  So I give you permission to do that too.

Don't stress out about the food.  If you lack confidence in your cooking skills, find an easy soup recipe and master it.  This is the perfect time of year for soups or maybe a chicken pot pie.  I like to search the pioneer woman website for great soups because her recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients aren't hard to find.  If you don't want to bake bread, most grocery stores bake bread daily so just buy some fresh bread.  Dessert doesn't have to be fancy, cookies or a store bought pie is fine. You can even replate it if you want it to look pretty.

My point is, having people over doesn't have to be major.  It can be simple and thoughtful without being a stress inducing event.  Sharing your home and a meal with others connects you and fosters relationships.  Don't let your perception that your home has to be perfect, isolate you from others.


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