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???
9 responses to “”
Dear Aunt Maryann, you so often are feeding the multitudes. I’ve learnt or am learning to just let people bring something when they come, makes the meal so much easier. And I do love to have the kitchen clean when they leave too. Sometimes though it feels more restful to just sit and chat instead of having to get up and at ’em. I’m always grateful to have the company that knows how to pitch in. Just makes my job a little easier. Guess it takes all kinds and sometimes our hospitality calling just requires more sacrafice than at other times. True that the ones who have done the inviting more often know really how much work it takes to make things flow! It’s fun, but WORK ;).
I never have been sorry I had help with the clean up but often have been sorry I did not have the help. Women working together in the kitchen can be very delightful and a good time to visit.
It’s nice to have the dishes and food taken care of so I usually accept help with that.I usually wait till guests are gone to put the table boards and extra chairs away.I remember my Mother and Mother-in-law sometimes put the kettles in the laundry or some other out of the way place so guests aren’t doing dishes all afternoon.Hospitality is so important and I’m learning to enjoy it.
I would say both has happened at my house. I always enjoy myself more when I am at someone elses house and they let me help with at least some of the cleanup. I always feel bad if they do not have a dishwasher and do not let me help. But most of the places I have been I have helped and have had very good conversation while doing it. I usually start clearing the table after dinner is over and we have had awhile to sit and talk. If I can put pretty much everything in the dishwasher I usually leave it at that. But it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling when your guests help and you have had a good stimulating conversation with them and fun. Makes for a delightful evening and you are more inclined to do it again!
I remember when I was a child and my mother had Sunday noon guests. They always helped clean up the kitchen after the meal and then we could all sit around and enjoy games and/or visit. I also enjoy having the “mess” cleaned up after the meal instead of having to work with dried on food how long after we are done eating. It is definitely a time for fellowship and somehow some women visit more when they are “working” than just sitting. I am glad to help clean up another lady’s kitchen as well. It’s a way of being thankful for the meal and helping to lift her load. I’d feel terrible if I didn’t help and she’d have to do it later.
Almost every meal I have here, or attend somewhere else, is potluck. I was brought up to help. I feel I SHOULD help the hostess with clean-up, and my guests always help me before they leave. We enjoy visiting in the kitchen while cleaning too. Since I have that large basement, equipped for big company, the guys usually help put all the folding chairs back on the rack, and store the banquet tables back out of the way. We just all do it for each other. I had that company yesterday, and when they left, all I had to do was put my left-over food away (they took their own left-overs home) and I ran the dishwasher. Felt GOOOOOD! My minister says, you take the joy away from someone if you don’t accept help, a gift, or a kind remark about you or something you’ve done. I think he’s right.
If people want to help, I let them. I try to wash what I can before the guests arrive so there is not as much for later. After the main course is served, I like to clear off those plates and leftover food. Then I serve dessert. Sometimes I will put away some of the food then, if I can sort of do it on the sly. When I am a guest, I want to help and feel bad when the hostess has to do it after we leave.
As a guest, I am often unsure what to do if I ask if I can help and the hostess says no, but I know from experience that later she is going to have to pay. I always feel guilty walking away knowing that. But at the same time I don’t want to insist because I don’t know how the hostess is feeling. I think she may just want us to leave so she can rest. I was so glad you let me help last Sunday, and I really enjoyed our talk. I have a different problem when I have guests. We don’t have a dishwasher, and so many other people do, and I feel bad having guests help with all the dishes, not just the non-dishwasher stuff. I would also feel bad about having a guest help if they have a lot of pain or somthing like that. I would very much want my guests to feel free to just sit if that is a problem. My mom won’t listen to me though, and helps even when she doesn’t feel good. My girls and I have worked out a good system for big dishwashings. We divide the dishes in stacks, and each of us wash a stack. (Cups, silverware, plates, kettles). Nobody is stuck with the whole job. I do this every Sunday (Bethany helps, too), and any day during the week that dishes get ahead of us for whatever reason. So much less overwhelming.
I’m all for the easiest way possible – everybody bring something, disposable plates and cups. Best of all is warm weather hospitality when Dick can grill chicken breasts. Now I’m in the mood for company!