Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday Afternoon Tea

I am at the moment coughing and sneezing and feeling generally miserable.  My husband kindly gave me his cold.  How thankful I am that he did not give it to me last weekend with the busy-ness of preparing for guests in our home. ;)

In a way, opening our home again to the art of hospitality coincides with my year of all things create!  To me hospitality is the sharing of time and talent and food and shelter and... life.  I am the kind of person who is quite happy these days curled up alone with a good book so it is good to be reminded that there are real friends (ours and Christopher's) for whom showing hospitality will bring joy.

I love the story Emilie Barnes tells of her mother's gift of hospitality.  While living in the back of their small dress shop, her mother would put the tea kettle on and place her beloved teapot and teacups out to offer a customer hospitality.

She went through the same ritual when she lived in a retirement home, opening the door of her one room when friends could stop by for tea and a visit.  True hospitality is from the heart as one looks past the surroundings... however limited or grand.

Later, Emilie would take those same skills and use them for a much larger audience in her home and through her books.  Lessons learned in small spaces and in very little ways are just as important as when taught in perfect circumstances... if they ever do exist.

One should never apologize for a small house, doing so would make us ungrateful for what God has provided us with.  Instead we fill it with creativity, color, beauty, peace, music, and His Presence.  Flowers growing outside would be lovely and the aroma of something baking in the oven as guests arrived would be like a warm embrace to a weary soul.

It is quite sad to me when a person thinks their house is too small or they don't have "enough" to have friends over.  For the most part... I have never found a place too small and even a cold drink of water on a hot day is welcoming or a cup of hot tea in winter.

Our hospitality may be more one-on-one or having just a few friends over for coffee or tea or a meal rather than large parties but our attitude of thankfulness for what we do have (instead of becoming bitter at what we do not) will be welcomed in the world we live in today.

To be honest, one of my more uncomfortable hospitality moments came when a Bible study I was attending had a potluck at the beautiful home of one of the members.  It was obvious hundreds of thousands of dollars had been spent on making the home unique but I had a difficult time feeling comfortable.  I don't think the hostess felt at home in her own house and this transferred to her guests.  Sometimes more is just... more.

I have also been shown hospitality in other "fancy" homes which reflected a different personality from the homeowner.  One soon does not see the glitz and glitter but there is the feeling of friendship, laughter, and fellowship as we were made to feel welcome.  In those homes, it was obvious the host and hostess were comfortable in their own surroundings and made their guests feel welcome.  Their intention was never "look at our money" (for sometimes God blesses with "more"... but the Glory goes to Him and not ourselves).

There is an enjoyment in the preparation for hospitality when we see it as a form of giving and sharing instead of entertaining.  I don't want to have to entertain anyone.  The thought of it makes me need a nap. (Although I do understand the term entertaining is used in the same way as hospitality.)   However, I do enjoy looking through my recipe cards and cookbooks to think of what good I can make... given time and budgets.

Then deciding which dishes to use and what tablescapes our imagination can think of given what is available in our home and garden.  Through the years I have collected dishes and such through my own purchases, inheritances, and thrifting.  I love to check clearance aisles after holidays for items to be used the next year (and sometimes all year long).

For Christopher's 4th of July gathering we used paper and plastic and the decorations mostly came from my family room.  The red, white, and blue plant was only moved from the porch to the deck.  More creativity than cash... but still one knew as they walked to the deck that they were at a party.

I am aware that a post about hospitality is rather out of the ordinary for a Sunday Afternoon Tea but then again... the Bible is full of stories about hospitality given and even the reminder that we may have "entertained angels unaware".  That is an exciting thought.  :)

Note:  Do forgive any typos and grammar errors.  I tried to fix what was obvious but I must return to my sofa with a cup of hot throat coat tea, my pillow, and a throw... and a reminder that it is just the common cold.


Vee said...

Oh feel better. A summer cold just seems so much worse than a winter one.

I've been thinking a lot about hospitality myself. It probably has to do with reading here and at other blogs...Gracious Hospitality for one. A post is waiting in the wings. Hospitality is not my strongest suit, but I do believe that we are told to be hospitable for a reason and I hope to do better.

hmsclmom said...

Oh Brenda...I hope you get to feeling better soon. (((((HUGS)))) We have a small home but have opened it up for years to friends and family. Just yesterday we had a BBQ here for my birthday and had a wonderful time doing it frugally. Lots of love and laughter are what makes a home welcoming!

Be blessed!

Ann said...

What a wonderful reminder for all of us ... that it is not what we "have" that our friends come to see, it is what we "are" ... their friends. Years ago my husband and I entertained a good deal; we were blessed with a lovely home and loved to share our friendship, our food and our pool. However, very seldom did we ever get invited to their house for just a cool drink on a hot day and some time to chat. I later heard that one of our neighbors did not feel her home was good enough to invite people over. How wrong she was! We would have loved the invite and the thought that she cared enough to have us over.

Anonymous said...

Personally, we enjoy a casual get together with friends a lot more than some formal do where we don't know half the people.
Get well soon Brenda.

Anonymous said...

I was at a party in a very tiny house. When I saw all the people coming in I wondered if we all would even be able to all sit down. Well it worked out beautifully. The day was nice enough for some to wonder outside in groups..some of the teens gathered in one of the bedrooms to look at guitars and such. The groups kept mingling and changing. I mean this house was absolutely tiny and there were at least 20 people there plus the family.This family always does hospitality simply never over doing the food or cost but everyone has a marvelous time and talk about it for years. This was sure a lesson for me. I hope your cold settles down and goes away soon. Sarah

Anonymous said...

I was once invited to a "fancy schmancy" house for a party. The woman who lived there didn't want anyone to walk on her carpets. She had plastic runners down and "paths" throughout the house. If people got to talking and accidentally stepped off the plastic she would come 'round and admonish people "Back on the plastic" you are getting my carpet dirty. Gee what a way to live a life! I admire your brand of hospitality!!!!

Shan said...

Dearest Brenda,

I love this post...I just wrote and posted on we must be thinking along the same lines...kindred spirits.

I am trying to offer more spontaneous hospitality...I struggle with this...but I am trying.

I will pray that you make a speedy recovery...summer colds are no fun at all.

Yours kindredly,
Honey Hill Farm

Gen @Simplycornish said...

"There is an enjoyment in the preparation for hospitality when we see it as a form of giving and sharing instead of entertaining."
What a statement! I am going to post this on my refrigerator as a gentle reminder that an open heart is as important as an open home. Little can be much when offered with a sincere heart. Thank you for a wonderful "Sunday Afternoon Tea" post; I so enjoyed it.
Pray you will be feeling better soon.

a8383 said...

Oh Brenda I hope you feel better soon! I love the quote that bread and water are not far from being tea and toast- but what a difference they sound like! Sometimes it's mostly how we look at things- and gratitude- that make all the difference. Angela

Heather L. said...

I hope you are better soon! I'm feeling something in the back of my throat and hoping it goes away as the day goes on. Enjoyed your post and am always eager to read about hospitality. It is a passion of mine and when I am old I would like to write about it. :)

Malinda B said...

What a lovely and thought-provoking post. I am currently reading "What Is A Family" from Edith Schaffer and she has been addressing the very same thoughts.

Sadly, I have spent many years fighting being hospitable. As the Lord has challenged me and brought articles and blog posts (like yours!) I have discovered the joy of welcoming others into our home.
Tonight, we are hosting 20 college students for a simple summer meal and games. Our four homeschooled children are just thrilled.
I am so thankful that the Lord is so very patient.
Thank you for your inspiration & wisdom. You are such a blessing!

Under His Wings,
Malinda@ Vintage Homestead Emporium

Manuela@A Cultivated Nest said...

Feel better! There's nothing worse than having a cold in the the heat of summer. It's just discomfort on top of discomfort.

I struggle with hospitality. I LOVE having people over. Unfortunately I live with two hermits! So it doesn't always work out the way I'd like :)


Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

I meant to post something yesterday! I am hoping you rest up and feel better. I have something like this too. After the long 4th of July weekend, I was shot for a day and a half! But better now. Creative hospitality is something so good to put into life. She are making people happy and also sharing how to live!

freetobeme - Anita said...

I'm sorry you're not feeling well. Thanks for sharing with us in spite of being under the weather. I love to entertain too. I inherited it from my parents, I'm sure, because they took pride in a beautiful table and delicious food. I hope I've passed it on to my children.

Anonymous said...

Our daughter is coughing her head off too...we thought it was just her allergies that brought it. But now we are not so sure. Hubby has a coworker who was off for a whole week, WITH MEDS from the doc. The doc said there is a strange virus going around right now. DO be careful, help if you do not bounce back quickly. We know how that goes...with diabetes, all illnesses are harder to recover from. Years ago, we learned to always have our own hand towels...just that one simple thing kept the rest from catching something, sometimes. Also, in your situation, I would not sleep with a husband who was ill. In fact, hubby and I generally do this. One sleeps in the living room on the couch or comfy recliner and the other in the bed...the sick one chooses the best place for them. It has kept the other well in most cases!!
Elizabeth in NC

Anonymous said...

Hi Brenda,
I'm delurking. ~smile~ I've been reading here for a few weeks and I enjoy every post. I signed up to follow. I certainly hope you feel better real soon.

Tracey McBride ~ Frugal Luxuries™ said...

Lovely, and so well said dear Brenda! While I do know better...there are so many times I catch myself not wanting to invite people over because the little projects I'm involved in aren't finished...or the house isn't just right. It's at those times the children (not so child~like any more ;) remind me of my own philosophy..."if not now then when Mom?!" Aren't children such a blessing at times??? ;)))

Thank you so much for this charming reminder.

Sending love and healing thoughts to you my kind friend.


P.S. You have so many intriguing posts lately that I am looking forward to what I've been missing these past few weeks!

Pam said...

This is so true. Hospitality can cause the worst day to become the best day.

Children of Eve said...

This post on hospitality may be out of the ordinary, but it is perfect, beautiful and filled with wisdom. Thank you.