I’ve decided it’s okay to invite people into my mess. Nothing builds community like opening our homes to friends and family, but Pinterest images of artistic decor and scrumptious food can intimidate us. Our living rooms definitely don’t look pin-worthy, and on top of that, we’re too busy to have company.
Living in Turkey, my family and I are surrounded by people who slow down enough to make time for community. Turks ask you all the time just to drop by, and they are genuinely happy when you do. Their hospitality varies from elaborate, formal meals to quick cups of coffee in chaotic living rooms.
Don’t Wait for Perfect
If I have to wait for the perfect time and conditions, hospitality is never going to happen around here. Ideally, I’d like time to clean my house spic and span, get out to the grocery store to buy ingredients for a scrumptious meal, and then actually cook, but those three conditions almost never happen at the same time, so I’ve given up on perfect.
That means my brand of hospitality is sometimes messy. Over the years, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to let go of perfection. Imagine the following scenarios:
- You open the oven to take out the chicken you baked for your guests, but it’s stone-cold raw. (Surprise!) You forgot to turn on the oven.)
- You’re serving tea to neighbors you just met, and your slip slides out from under your skirt into a perfect ring around your feet. You wonder how on earth to make it disappear without anyone noticing. (This actually happened, for crying out loud. Can you believe it?)
- You’re running late, but your breakfast guests arrive early. You take a deep breath, invite them into the kitchen, and finish prepping your ingredients. When you’re finally ready to start cooking, you realize the gas tank that fuels your stove is empty. (Another surprise!) You hope no one will keel over from starvation while you wait another 45 minutes.
From situations like these, I’ve learned to try to relax and enjoy my guests, whatever happens. Even if the food isn’t ready until one and a half hours after they’ve arrived, people can still have fun.
We live far away from family, but inviting friends over has enabled us to build a community network that has grown to be like a family over the years. My kids love it. When they were little they would ask, “Is anyone coming over tonight?”
Opening your home speaks louder than any words. Just the other day I was surprised when a new Christian told me one thing that encouraged his spiritual life was being invited to our home for holiday dinners for the past three years. Food and family rituals are powerful communicators of love.
The upcoming holiday season may bring Pinterest images to our minds, but I want to encourage you. When it comes to hospitality, don’t wait for perfect. Takeout pizza on paper plates and ice cream from the freezer can make for a lovely meal in the company of friends.
Now it’s your turn. Will you have any guests over the holidays? Do you enjoy hospitality, or does it scare you?
(Re-edited from my archives)
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