Yesterday my children had a few chores (and by a few I mean more than usual) to do around the house to clean up after my oldest daughter’s 12th birthday party. They had started on them but then… a knock at the door. The two neighbor girls from down the street who moved away about a year ago were back in the neighborhood to see their grandpa. Now I had a choice, do I be a Martha and make the girls finish chores first before playing with friends, even if it is a special occasion? Or do I be a Mary and let them enjoy the company of others while putting off the work ethic I am trying to instill in them?
Though most people think hospitality starts with lavish dinner parties or tea with the neighbors, it really starts with our own children. Our children are our most precious gift from God with their own unique set of needs. We should be giving our children what every stranger wants – love, acceptance, friendship, and safety. My kids’ friends are a perfect opportunity to instill a “Mary” attitude towards hospitality. So I decided to be a Mary and let them enjoy the company of friends they had not seen in quite a while.
I figured this would come back to bite me later when they were done playing and dinner was served and I laid down the law: “You can’t watch your shows until your room is clean.” Heaven forbid they miss an episode of Once Upon A Time on Sunday nights.
But here is the glorious, amazing thing that happened. My 12 year old set a timer and when 5:00 came; she went upstairs (without my telling her) and finished the dishes and then went and cleaned her room before her show started. I was in shock. Not only did my children get to enjoy their friends, they also showed me that they respected me enough to finish their chores without complaining or prompting.
I am so thankful for hospitality we have received in the past from friends and family who have welcomed us in their homes and thankful for my girls’ big hearts towards others. They love to be social and compassionate and caring. I love our Japanese teapots we have that I have let the children play with to have tea parties with friends in the playroom. Yes, they might one day get broken (so far so good) but the gift of hospitality they teach with every pour is worth it.
It may seem weird to some, but I always keep an inexpensive meal plan as a backup for surprised (but cherished) visits from anyone who happens to stop by. I am not a gifted hostess (sorry Becky for not offering you drinks!) like those television moms, or funny like the Huxtable’s, or rich enough to lay out a lavish feast, but if you are in the neighborhood and like spaghetti and salad, you are more than welcome in our house. Our children may even serve you a bit of watered down tea with 5 teaspoons of sugar in it.
“The crown of the house is Godliness, the beauty of the house is order, the glory of the house is hospitality; the blessings of the house is contentment.” – Henry Van Dyke