We had out of state company this weekend, and they were the kind of company that is easy to have, delightful to visit with, and so determined to help instead of being a bother. I’m sitting here in my chair at a little after four o’clock and the kitchen is cleaned, the food put away, and a restful evening ahead of me. This is the second Sunday in a row that this has happened, and if people aren’t careful, I’m gonna’ get to expecting Sunday guests to help clean up!
I’m curious. Those of you who have company on a regular basis. Do you let your guests help you clean up? Or do you just wait until they are gone to do the clean-up business. Along with that, if you ARE the Sunday guests, do you help clean up? I’ll take answers from anybody, but I am especially interested in answers from those of you who regularly have Sunday guests (because, in all seriousness, it has been my observation that people who have company often have some interesting observations about what makes a good guest!).
You see, I have a little theory about this, and I’m wondering if your comments will help to either prove or disprove it. I have found that the younger generation often wants to “sit and talk” around the table, or escape (to their own locations) while the grownups talk, and I have never had a problem with that, personally. But I’m really wondering if maybe some of this is actually sabotaging the old Mennonite tradition of having Sunday company. Hear me out, here.
You see, a gal gets lunch around, and has a table full of company, and then everyone sits around and talks until it is late. And I enjoy this after dinner conversation immensely. Then a few attempts are made to “help clean up” and get brushed aside by the cook, (because she KNOWS how tired she is and she hates to think that she would make her guests clean up when they must be so tired, too, and besides, she knows where everything goes, and she knows how to load that dishwasher, and the things that are too big for the dishwasher are the yucky things anyhow, so it isn’t nice to ask people to help with that, etc., etc., etc..) After a while, the easy thing to do is not have company. And I know this. There are just times when the cost to the Mom is too great. Besides, the captive employees, known as Daughters (who sometimes refer to themselves as “the slaves of the world”) GRUMBLE about all the work that is left after all the company has gone home. I know this, too.
So, I’ve been thinking. Especially since last Sunday when my friend, riehlfarmwife , AKA friend Kathy, washed up the extra dishes and stayed until everything was tiptop shape and put away before being collected by her patient husband and family to depart for their own house. The thing is, I know that Kathy, being the wife and mom she is, and it being Sunday, and having been to church, probably could have justified getting on home after lunch and the committee meeting that followed. Instead she stayed and chatted and we had a wonderful time of fellowship together that we probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.
And today, we women chatted around the kitchen while we put away food, washed up the dishes and in general got the kitchen back in order. I wouldn’t have minded finding ourselves some chairs and just talking, but these gals were DETERMINED! And they got that kitchen back in order in no time flat. And I sat here on my chair after everyone went home and felt so grateful that it was done. The week ahead looks so much more doable since the kitchen is done.
And now I wonder if there is something to this business of accepting help to clean up. Maybe more gals would resurrect the old art of hospitality if they didn’t feel like they had to do it by themselves. Do we feel like it isn’t really hospitality if our guests “do anything?” I know I’ve thought that for a long, long time. It somehow felt like it was more of a gift or “loving” if I didn’t have invited guests help clean up. Maybe I’ve been shortchanging not only myself, but also my guests. It just might make the experience more special if we have the time to work together. And maybe, just maybe, it is the difference between “entertaining” and “hospitality.”
I’d much rather be the recipient of hospitality than to feel like I was being “entertained.”
What do you think???