Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Welcoming Home

I am not the best sport about house guests.  I love everyone who comes to visit us but I am, at heart, someone who craves her alone time.  I'm never sure how to elegantly step away and have a half an hour to do something quiet.  I am also worrying all the time about their needs.  Are they hungry?  Tired?  Do they like what is on TV?  Would they rather be out doing something?  But as I end a weekend of being the house guest, I am rethinking my attitude.

We are on a family trip to Minnesota and Wisconsin and we have spent the weekend at a friend's lake house.  Even as we pulled in the driveway, I knew we would be comfortable.  It's that kind of place.  The couches are big and deep, there is room for thirty people to eat at one table or another comfortably, there are big blankets overflowing from wicker baskets.  Books, games, music and movies are stacked haphazardly along the shelves and floor just waiting for you to grab them.  Everything is in reach and nothing feels as if you are intruding if you grab it.  And that's just the house.

Our hosts gently help us with our kids, offering to take them down to the beach to build sand castles or over to a neighbor's house to swing on the swing set.  Anytime I even think I might be getting hungry, there is a tray with chips and dip or fresh fruit and veggies.  Each time we walk down to the dock, there are new sand toys or tubes to float on.  It is, in a word, effortless.

There's something so simple about hospitality when it is done well.  It can make you feel as if you are wrapped in a warm hug.  I am going to work on making my house just as easy - I don't want people to feel as if they have to ask me to watch a movie, take a walk or curl up with a good book.  I want to have snacks ready and make fun easy to find.  But mostly, I just want to relax about the whole thing.  I think that tiny thing will make a very big difference in everyone's experience.

How do you practice hospitality in your home?  What makes your guests the most comfortable?

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