aka The Frazzled Mom
The word of the day is one of my top favorites: hospitality. I make it my mission to teach it to my children, but I also enjoy extending it to every visitor.
For me, hospitality isn’t just having someone over for a quick visit. It’s offering the use of my home, and the things in it, so the visitor can feel “at home”. It’s a means of showing my love in a physical form: through entertainment, food and comfort.
One thing that always comes to mind when I hear that word is a little, old lady from our church. Her name was Ferbia and she was every bit a Southerner. When you entered her home, there was the floral couch with wood trim, across the living room from two recliners. In front of the couch was a coffee table complete with a candy dish (I think shaped like a chicken). Oh, there was another, smaller chair/sofa in the corner that also had a table and another candy dish! And I’m not talking those hard pieces of old candy. No! She had premium candy (well, for a kid like me it was “premium”). Snickers, Milky Way, Hershey’s. I’d always stuff my pockets with candy (of course she knew and didn’t care) and my mom (grrr) would make me empty them each time I’d leave.
When I’d enter her house, it was always warm and inviting. She’d usher me in, sit me down at the dinette between the living room and small kitchen. It wasn’t a huge house, but it always felt like home. Her primary concern was to make sure I wasn’t hungry. Did I want something to eat? Ham? Mashed potatoes? Oh, she might have had the ham in the fridge, but she’d have no problem whipping up some mashed potatoes just for the occasion. And while I waited? A cookie jar sat within reach. Tea cakes, one of the best cookies I’ve ever had and one of the messiest ones to ever make. My kitchen is usually covered in flour by the time I’m done. Tea cakes are a buttermilk based cookie with a few spices thrown in (allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon). I say “thrown in” because that’s how she baked. She’d never measure with cups or spoons.
So while she bustled about in the kitchen, preparing a huge feast, even going to such great lengths for just an eight year old, her husband, Johnny, would sit across the table from me. Upending an old, worn tin can, dominoes would dance about the table and settle into a chaotic pile. We’d spend a few minutes turning all of them face down and then, together, would mix the pile in a few circles before selecting our tiles and beginning a game.
No fine china had been laid out. The only TV station played was the one that had Wheel of Fortune, followed by Jeopardy, then the nightly news. That’s it. No cartoons. No movies. It was one on one time with my honorary grandparents. At least, that’s how they always felt to me. I may not have been related to them, but even when their grand kids were visiting, I never felt out-of-place or like I didn’t belong.
That’s what hospitality means to me and that is the kind of example I want to live for others. Paying it forward, as it were.