simple hospitality

I remember as a little girl sitting at the top of the stairs in my nightie, the upstairs landing dark but light flowing from the hallway at the bottom of the stairs. My little sister sat next to me, probably in matching nightie, and we would sit and listen to the snatches of conversation that drifted out of the kitchen and then the living room.

My parents were having a dinner party, or maybe a home group in their house. Either way it was too late for us to be up but we could hear the sound of enjoyment and we wanted to be a part of it.

My mum wrote to us a few years ago:

“Visitors should always be welcomed to share the best of whatever you have. That doesn’t mean lots of fancy food. Hospitality is much more about sharing than showing off”.

Events seems to always try to be bigger and better than the last one – even the smaller, at home events you see online take on a scary aura of perfection. It’s something to do with living in the age of pinterest, I’m sure.

And I love it. I love the creativity, the little details, the thoughtful touches.

But that’s not what hospitality is. Hospitality is a spirit of welcome. And all the cake pops, coordinated linens and imaginative photo booths in the world cannot replicate a real and heartfelt welcome.

In the last few weeks, we’ve started to meet more people in this new city and have been invited in to various homes for supper, dinner, drinks. And they’ve been wonderful because these strangers have welcomed us to their adopted city with open arms. We’ve been fed lasagne and tacos and curry. And it’s not been fancy, it’s not been something that would make the pages of a Martha Stewart magazine.

But we’ve felt welcomed. And in a new city, a new country, you cannot put a price on the difference that can make.

So I’m committed to making this our practise too. To invite people round more. To offer what we have which is a big table, a great chilli recipe and (I think) good conversation.

A few months ago I read this as I was blog-hopping around the web:

“Let us use the more austere times that apparently lie ahead to simplify the way we entertain each other. If you want to recapture the simple joy of fellowship as you break bread with your friends, may I suggest a return to a jug of wine, a loaf of bread (and a crumb or two of cheese) as the only necessary fuel?” – Lay Anglicana

If expectations of fanciness, of having a perfectly tidy house, of being a master chef are holding you back from extending hospitality today, can I encourage you to simplify the expectations and do it anyway? It can make all the difference between someone feeling lost or at home – I know.