I grew up in a household where entertaining was stressful. My mother was a divorced schoolteacher with four kids, doing the best she could. But when company was due, she was usually yelling, and we scurried around, shoving stuff into cupboards, setting the table at the last minute, and wished we were somewhere else. It was a temperamental home, and I often envied my friends with more serene parents. I spent a lot of time at their houses.
I love people. I wanted our home to feel welcoming, so I worked hard to overcome those early patterns. It began with learning to control my own temper, and let love, not obligation, guide my actions.
When our children were young, my friend Lyn invited me to her first workshop on hospitality. She asked everyone what stopped them from inviting people into their homes. I remember this room full of lovely, accomplished women revealing that they felt their houses weren't nice enough, cooking not good enough, etc. Lyn encouraged us to give up perfectionism and entertain to “Bless, not Impress”. What a concept! I know that when I am at my friends’ homes, I don't notice how clean the baseboards are! I feel the love and enjoy our time together. I feel blessed and I don’t need to be impressed.
We live near an international airport. Our children are grown. Our daughter works overseas. Family and friends come and go. I show them where the towels and the coffee are. I ask them to strip the beds when they leave. I wish sometimes our home felt like a bed and breakfast, where I provide elegant meals and flowers at each bedside, but a hostel is more my style. Our guests appreciate the low-key vibe (and the price tag- free!) Nieces and nephews have stayed here for weeks at a time, while they get launched in their careers.
My husband has recently been diagnosed with dementia and can no longer be left alone safely. One of the unexpected benefits of all these years of our “Open Door Policy” is that those folks are rotating back in to help me care for him. They know where the towels are, and which trash can is for recyclables. He is comfortable with them. They bring the world to him and provide love and relief to me.
I didn’t know that my efforts to be hospitable would circle back to bless me so hugely, but they have. Thanks, Lyn.
Diana Candee, February 4, 2017