The Hospitality Gene

I’m the worst hostess. I kid you not, one time I invited a couple of friends over for an evening “meal” and I served popcorn. 

My mom loved to entertain. She’d plan elaborate meals, invite friends over, and the laughter would flow. Clearly, I didn’t inherit her hospitality gene. It skipped a generation. 

My daughter routinely invites friends over for things like Taco Tuesdays and Waffle Wednesdays. My son has proven to be way more capable in the kitchen and a delightful host. 

I’m undone. I just freeze up when it comes to hospitality. Oh sure, I can host holiday meals—but that’s family. Totally different.

My husband is doubly blessed. He inherited the Southern Charm gene—which in combination with the Hospitality gene has an infectious allure. 

One time, while I was traveling, he invited our son’s friend and his dad over for a meal. He made spaghetti. 

From what I learned later, the spaghetti was a congealed glob of pasta, but once topped with a jar of spaghetti sauce, no one seemed to care. As the friend’s dad later reported, “It was a real guy’s dinner.”

More recently, when I was out of town, (notice a pattern of hospitality in my absence?) my husband invited a friend over for lunch. AND HE SERVED LEFTOVERS. But apparently it was met with appreciation and gratitude.

Last spring, my husband really wanted to have our aging neighbor over for a meal. He promised to do all the cooking—which he did beautifully. We enjoyed the meal while reminiscing over the 20 years we’ve shared the same rural road. Had my husband not extended the invitation, I would have missed this.

What else am I missing because I’m so reluctant to offer a plain meal and a warm smile? I make excuses that no one really does this much anymore, but that sounds hollow—and it is.

The neighbor my husband invited to dinner last spring passed away in August. As I remember him, I have that last special evening—the laughter, the conversation, all from an invitation that I had been too reluctant to extend. I’m so thankful my husband did. 

Hospitality isn’t really about the food; it’s about a different menu: love and thoughtfulness. 

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