Serendipity | Cleaning for company



When my three children were growing up, and old enough to understand some workings within a household, if they saw me dusting or vacuuming, they usually asked, “Are the ladies coming over?” They were non-specific about which ladies, and their question made me laugh, but the underlying inquiry suggested housework being done meant friends coming over. They weren’t necessarily wrong in their assumption.

Our house was clean enough to be healthy, but clutter magically multiplied during midnight hours. That situation has never completely corrected itself. With only two adults sharing residency in a house once providing space for five, one would think clutter would lessen, but somehow it didn’t diminish proportionally. I’d like to blame three young adults who moved out, but I value people who own their shortcomings, so it would be wrong to deny my responsibility in this matter.

When I know company is coming, I can move with great haste. Well, I used to be able to quite effectively. Now I need breaks in between cleaning sessions, and given that I’m likely to misjudge time required to get things looking ready for guests, I’m often in a panic. Hurrying and a relaxed atmosphere are not compatible situations. I’ve always known that, but it’s even more important to respect added parameters this seventh decade of living has added to reality.

Sharing lunch or dinner with company is enjoyable for me. Inevitably there’s 10 minutes of desperation where I silently promise not to do this again. But once I get past that, and company arrives, I’m excited to party. An interesting quote by Jen Wilkin says, “Entertaining seeks to impress; hospitality seeks to bless.” As with any broad statement, there are exceptions, and I don’t think entertaining is done only to impress. I do believe hospitality has an altruistic component to it, and even the dictionary’s list of related words suggest that: warmth, generosity, friendliness, geniality, consideration, and others.

Hospitality has no strict rules or implied standards. It’s about motives in helping guests feel welcome and comfortable. Hospitality doesn’t require a spotless house, matching silverware, elaborate table settings or even the best cooked meal. It requires warmth and welcome, and an expressed feeling of “we’re glad you’re here!” Even if we’ve not been recipients of such welcoming gestures, we can learn to make them part of our hosting style. Being hospitable isn’t just for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s even more important on ordinary days when there is seemingly little to celebrate. Those are times we need to roll out the red carpet, even if food is served on paper plates with paper napkins and plastic utensils, and remember why we’re gathered together.

Nearly 40 years ago my next-door neighbor, a wonderful woman in her late 80s, invited my three young children and me to lunch. The table was set with a lovely white tablecloth and napkins and china dishes, and she served hot dogs and her homegrown garden tomatoes, and other items I no longer recall. When I think of hospitality, I always remember her gracious and generous manner, and the nice time three generations of friends enjoyed.

Best to worry less about dusting; care more about people. Hospitality makes for lovely times and wonderful memories! Share them generously as a blessing for all.

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