Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

I'm no Hostess Cupcake

On the short list of my God-given gifts you will not find hospitality. In any form. I think it must be a combination of introversion and perfectionism, but the unannounced chime of the doorbell can send me into panic mode. What is on my list of gifts is speed cleaning in the 15 seconds before I open the door. But that's a different blog.

For a long time having people over was almost more stress than enjoyment. I say "almost" because I truly do love my friends and rarely has someone left after a visit that I regret they came. Lots of moves, lots of friends, and lots of kids have sanded down the edges of my introverted pursuit of perfection. Ten years I ago I resolved to stop apologizing for the state of my house when someone dropped by on a whim. It didn't take long  to realize how freeing that small act of self-assurance could be. The truth is that most people don't really care if there are crumbs on my floor and dog hair on the couch. And the few who do can feel sorry for me and move on.

According to my calendar we have had company every single weekend since Christmas. Just for fun I added up the number of non-family members who have joined us for at least a meal, and more than half for an overnight stay. It's 46. That's a whole lot more baking of cakes and scrubbing of sinks than would normally happen around here in eight weeks. But, hey, cleaner bathrooms and an abundance of treats is always an improvement. And the fact that many of those guests brought the kind of belly laughter that reduces me to tears is the best hostess gift of all.

My sister-in-law once gave me a sweet little figurine holding a pineapple--the symbol of hospitality. I found it  providential when a stray football knocked it off the table within a week and broke her in half. I should glue it back together but I like the way it reminds me of God's sense of humor. It tells me that the gift of hospitality will never actually be mine, but I need to do the best job I can with what I have.

It's a lesson I want my children to learn: Doing the right thing, even if (especially if) it doesn't come easily, is always worth it. Opening wide my finger-smudged door enough times helped me learn to get over myself. And made it possible for me to say with utter honesty, "I am really, really glad you came."

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