Thursday Thoughts: Hospitality...

I'm going to be ambitious and do something every Thursday called "Thursday Thoughts". Maybe its not actually ambitious because it can be about whatever I want since its just my thoughts. I guess I'm just committing to using the same blog title every week and that's not ambitious at all except that it means I have to have at least one blog post every week and it will happen on Thursday. I'm sure you're all super excited about that now that I've over-explained for a full paragraph. 

Anyway... to kick it off I'm focusing on hospitality. I love having people in my home. As a certified introvert I prefer small groups and what could be better than hand-picking the group of people you will be hanging out with in that small group. I like the IDEA of going to gatherings at other places and I love being invited to things, but it always brings up some anxiety and then I turn into a wallflower at the actual event and forget how to make all the mouth sounds. When I go TO a gathering I always end up hovering around the food or playing with the dog in the corner. Having people in MY home is my jam.

Hospitality seems to be a dying art. Jim has an old recipe book that belonged to his Grandmother and it details several dinner parties, luncheons, and other events that she hosted complete with menus, seating arrangements, and table decorations. She was an artist so she even doodled in the book to make notes about how everything should be laid out on the table. I have gone through that book over and over because its a wealth of information about showing intentional hospitality. She thought about what would make her guests feel taken care of and loved by way of the food she prepared and the table she set and the flowers she used as centerpieces. That's what I want, too.
I love the note that this friend included inside the recipe book when gifting it to her "very cherished friend". What a gift to be considered "altogether lovely."
These newspaper clippings with hostess tips are classic. Instructions for the maid...
A couple of luncheon menus. The centerpiece for the top gathering was to be red roses & yellow narcissus. So lovely. There were also several pages of lunch menus that were hosted for the "Club Girls." That made me so happy to know she had some "girls" that were a regular part of her life. I can just imagine them sipping coffee and chit chatting in the parlor.  
This page brought some confusion because Jim's grandmother's name was Lucille, so we wondered if originally this had belonged to his great grandmother and was then passed down to his grandmother. I would dearly love to know what the announcement had been... engagement, baby on the way, sweet 16/coming out party??? Regardless, its so wonderful. Please note that in the middle of the page it says the butter was to be made into roses.

It's interesting to me that having people over has become so important to me because it wasn't something my parents did much as I was growing up. We had family over for holidays, but my parents didn't host dinner parties or invite their friends into our home frequently. Coming of age in the Martha Stewart era opened my eyes to the details of hostessing, and I can get all up in some details. Intricately folded cloth napkins - yes. Fun table runners - yes. Place cards - yes. Centerpieces - YESSSSSS. All of those details can send me into a black hole of hostessing. I want my guests to feel loved and cared for just like Jim's grandmother did and sometimes I end up thinking more details = more love. Usually it only = $$$ and scrambling at the last minute because I fail to take into account how long it actually will take to implement all the details.

I think Martha Stewart Living Magazine (MSLM) was the precursor to Pinterest. I had a subscription to MSLM when I was in college. Talk about uncool. But, I saved every single issue for years and dog-eared the pages with centerpiece ideas I liked, sample menus (even though at that time I had no clue how to cook anything), theme ideas, table decor, invitation samples, etc. I will admit that some of my early attempts at hospitality fell flat because I forgot to focus on the people and got too wrapped up in the details. Prior to one particular party I hosted, I cooked and cleaned myself into pure exhaustion and was completely unable to truly enjoy the party itself. My house was clean and the food was great, but I was so tired I could hardly keep my eyes open. I've learned to let some of those details go.

Way back in 2011 I read a blog post by Lisa-Jo Baker over at (in)courage about Hospitality. Her words have resonated with me ever since. 
"Big hospitality is a matter of the heart and not the architecture."
 One of the commenters on that post broke down the difference between hosting and showing hospitality and I loved it. She said "Hosting is look at me and what I have and have done. 
Hospitality is look at how the Lord has blessed me, please let me share with you."
This is the whole crux of the matter. Being a blessing. I want people to feel loved when they enter my home and even more loved when they leave.

Over the last 10 years or so we've hosted dinners, brunches, parties, wine tastings, book clubs and bible studies in our home. The whole "matter of the heart and not the architecture" thing struck a cord with me because we do not have a big home perfectly set up for entertaining. We have a 2 bedroom, 1 bath bungalow. Our kitchen is a decent size, but the size is fairly irrelevant when you consider the fact that it was last updated in the 1970s and there is barely any usable counter space. Even still, I've made a lot of food for people I love in that kitchen and I'm so thankful that I didn't let the architecture keep me from having people in my home.

Jim and I are part of an awesome Supper Club. Five couples around the table every could of months for some awesome conversation. Perfection. We rotate the hosting duties and the first time we hosted Supper Club at our house I went straight to Jim's grandmother's old recipe book for inspiration. I wanted to create the whole menu from her recipes and it was so awesome paging through the different options. I ended up making stuffed pork chops, but came so close to trying the Jellied Tuna, just because it sounded so disgusting.
These pork chops were DELICIOUS!! 
I LOVE that this is written on the inside of an old envelope. My grandmother used to do the same thing. 
The dinner that night was great, but more than anything I loved having everyone in our home. In a larger sense, the individuals and couples we collectively share a table with become a special part of who we are. There's something sacred about breaking bread together. I am obsessed with Shauna Niequist's book Bread & Wine. In the introduction she wrote,
"What makes me feel alive and connected to God's voice and spirit in this world is creating opportunities for the people I love to rest and connect and be fed at my table. I believe it's the way I was made, and I believe it matters."
After I read that, I underlined it and wrote out in the margin "Me, too!!!" because I truly feel the EXACT. SAME. WAY. About two years ago, I was wrestling with something I thought maybe God was wanting me to do. I wasn't sure if I was hearing him right and I wasn't sure if I was willing to step out on faith just yet and then he spoke deep into my spirit and assured me by showing that He had already set the wheels in motion and all I had to do was open my door to the people around me. All I had to do was share my love with others and invite people in. Literally. So, I did. And I haven't stopped. And it's been such a blessing. Amen.

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely adore that you're blogging! Love hearing your voice and heart! Excited for this!


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