Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Secret to Hospitality

I am waiting for a batch of cookies to come out of the oven. I am also waiting for my parents to arrive. They are coming for a two week visit. They live across the country. We get to see them once or twice a year. I am so excited they are coming! It used to be that I would get really stressed when I had company coming. I don’t any more. I have learned the secret of hospitality.

A year or two ago I heard a speaker talk about hospitality. In my mind, I was not a good entertainer so I was excited about what I would hear and learn. What I heard was so basic that it was stunning. It was such a simple thought it amazed me that I hadn’t gotten it before. The secret of good hospitality is to focus on your guests.

What I figured out was that though I thought I had been focusing on my guests, I had been focused on myself. I was trying to make my house and my entertainment (food or what-not) be the best it could be. I wanted my house spotless (‘so they could relax’). I wanted to have the best meals I knew how to cook prepared (‘so they would love the food’). As a result, I was always stressed. The house was never spotless. I was desperately trying to do all of those little things right until they walked in the door.

Focusing on my guests has changed everything. I do not get stressed. I am excited about my company. The cleanest rooms in my house are my guest rooms and my guest bathroom. I made sure they have what they need – things like fresh soap, washcloths, and hangers in their closet. I provided the conveniences that in the past I always forgot. I am not concerned that I have a load of laundry in my room to fold. I am not worried about the pile of papers beside my bed (and I am not going to put them under the bed!). I am not embarrassed that my kids rooms look lived in. I am anticipating the smile on my dad’s face when he gets to eat one of his favorite cookies. I am thinking about how good the house smells. And, I am certainly going to meet them at the door as soon as they get here!


Carmom said...

Have a lot of fun with your parents. My own will be here for Thanksgiving along with my sister's family and possibly my brother's as well. I am looking forward to their visit. I also have a hard time with trying to make my house clean. But I gifure they will be more comfortable if I am relaxed and calm. So that is what I try to be whenever I have company. Thank you for that reminder.

Trisha said...

What great advice! I have struggled with everything being just so in anticipation of company too. I realized I wanted to change when my husband once yelled, "Places everyone!" as the doorbell rang. He was kidding but he kinda had a point.

Who are we trying to impress anyway? These people coming to visit already like us for who we are, right?

Thanks for the reminder!

jennifer said...

I am proud of you. It is an art to finally learn how to host family or guests or friends. Just being yourself so that they can be their selves is the key. Just remember most people do not have the title of house inspector and "the king ot england is not coming" and you will be all right.

Elaine said...

This is beautiful, thank you. Just in time for me to read. I am hosting my first Thanksgiving, these are great thoughts.

Have a great visit.

Beth E. said...

Great post! I still tend to stress out, wanting my home to look like it came out of a magazine. That's how my mother kept our house all the time when we were growing up. I don't try to do that everyday, but I AM guilty of trying to accomplish that when my parents come to visit!!!