I try to practice hospitality. I have discovered that as my family has grown, it has become both easier and more difficult to do this. It is easier, because I don't spend quite so much time over-thinking it. When I had fewer children and a bit more time, I would plan things to death. Inviting someone over for dinner became an event. One that took a lot of energy and time and wasn't something I wanted to do all the time. As we grew in numbers, this level of planning became impossible if I still wanted to invite people over, so I had to relax a bit. Instead of planning a special meal, I just make more of what we are having. Instead of fussing over elaborate centerpieces and decorations, we pull up another chair (or two or three) to the table and hope that someone has been recently crumbed. It's not as fancy, but more relaxing and doable.
But as my family has grown, it has also become more difficult to be hospitable if only because of time. As much as I try not to be busy, I do have quite a few people who are doing things. While I might not be leaving my house all the time, there are people constantly coming and going and trying to find a date to invite friends over for dinner can be tricky. And that coupled with the busyness of others makes for a scheduling nightmare.
One of my goals for this year is to be more intentional about inviting people over. I have to admit that it's now the beginning of November and I haven't made a very good start. I'm beginning to think that I have to give up my notions of spontaneous hospitality and do some serious planning. Who do I want to invite over? How often? How many? When? After answering these questions, I think I just have to sit down with a calendar, mark off some dates and start inviting, even if it is a month or two in advance.
Some of my ideas include inviting people over who don't know each other but who I think would hit it off. Or inviting a couple of couples whom we don't see very often, but all know each other. Or, I have also secretly thought it would be great fun to host a 50's dinner based on an old cookbook I have called, Thoughts for Buffets, and have a grown-up dinner party where we all come in costume. (This would take some major planning... and sewing. And perhaps foundation garment buying.) I would also like to just pick some people who we don't know very well and would like to get to know better and invite them over. Those ideas alone could keep us busy all year.
So how about you? Do you find it easy to invite people over? Do you invite people over? How much preparation do you make? Have you been invited to someone else's home recently?
My guess is that many of us talk about being hospitable a lot more than we actually are. I hear much talk about how it is difficult to get to know people, especially in the church. The only real solution to this problem is to spend actual time with other people... in person, having real conversations, often sharing a meal of some sort.
Who wants to join me in doing more than talking? Here's my goal, by next Wednesday, I will have invited my first people over. Now that I've said it for all the world to hear, I may be motivated to actually do it. Leave a comment if you want to join me in making the world a more hospitable and pleasant place, and also what your goal for next week is. I'll report back in a week... you can, too!