“Come On In!”

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I have friends who love to entertain, invite people over for meals, spruce up their homes, cook special treats, settle in and relax with guests around the table. They totally mystify me, although I am grateful to be the recipient of their hospitality. If I am ambivalent about cooking, I am not ambivalent about entertaining. I don’t like to do it!

I struggle, therefore, with the reciprocity factor of enjoying other peoples’ invitations. At the last wonderful meal we enjoyed as guests, I finally just stated that I wasn’t going to reciprocate. Amazingly enough, this host said he was fine with that. He loves cooking and sharing and actually prefers being at his own home rather than going out. I still have trouble believing that, but he seems completely sincere. In fact he has already invited us back twice.

Years ago I took what the church called a “spiritual gifts inventory.” I think this was a thinly veiled effort to get people to volunteer more. I scored very low on hospitality. But thinking back on that questionnaire, I realize that it defined hospitality in a very narrow way, somehow equating it with entertaining. But hospitality, more accurately defined, can mean an openness to others and a general welcoming attitude. There I am on firmer ground. In fact the host I mentioned earlier constantly tells me how welcoming I am at church.

So yes “come on in” to share with me your story, your struggles, and your victories. But don’t wait for an invitation to dinner!

33 thoughts on ““Come On In!”

  1. We did not always entertain, and we certainly did not have overnight guests. Our house was full of us and three children. Fast forward to NC, and we were rattling around a larger house, with lots of people coming to visit. Unlike you, I liked to cook. I’ve learned to be more lots more flexible, too.

    The neighborhood parties always take place here. We have the largest living room. Sometimes people bring things, and often they don’t. That’s fine. We enjoy their company and like having the crowd together. You probably draw people like a magnet, and hosts love having good conversationalists as guests. You may have saved many parties by being there.

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  2. I don’t mind having two guests for dinner, or for drinks and snacks. But any more than that, and it starts to feel stressful. Then there is all that ‘extra-careful’ cleaning before they arrive. By the time I am finally sitting down to eat, I am usually wondering how soon they will leave. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  3. I wonder sometimes how many of our unconscious cultural expectations about entertaining are left over from a world in which the entertainer had a housekeeper, maids, and a cook. With a full staff, I’d be delighted to entertain every week. 😀

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  4. Hmmm, we don’t entertain because its too much work for my wife. Yes, that’s right, I guess that I’m not much help so we just don’t. Maybe that’s why we don’t get invited elsewhere. But, to be quite honest, I like staying home, anyway. I know, BOORING!

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  5. Well said, Elizabeth! Hospitality takes different forms! I love entertaining on a small scale, and now that I am less able, I am getting adept at ways of making things easier for myself. And what I apologise for not having tidied up ( but my place is never a tip) people say that they came to see me, not the apartment!! 😄😄

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  6. I am the same. Family is fine, a single close friend equally so. But beyond that I struggle. Having said that, we have just had two sets of neighbours around for drinks this week and we all had a great time. Neighbours they may be, but being rural we are not literally next door and we hadn’t seen one couple for two years! We’ve all agreed that we must make more effort to get together and one of the couples has suggested an evening with them in a couple of months’ time. So a positive community-building experience. But had I been required to cook dinner for them all it would have been an entirely different matter.

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  7. I suspect there are many of us who feel uncomfortable or inadequate having people over especially if it involves dinner. I’m involved in a home fellowship where we rotate homes for a potluck style dinner. I enjoy that because all the burden is not on me, even though there’s still a lot of preparation involved. I think we need to find what works for us and not feel guilty about the rest.

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