The Gift My Parents Gave Me

I could probably count on one hand the amount of times my parents have flown in their lifetime.

But it would take hundreds of hands to count the people they have welcomed into their home.

I wonder if they knew that when they stretched the table long on Saturday nights and filled it with all the extra table boards, that they were silently teaching us children that it, indeed, was more important to build a longer table than a higher fence.

Saturdays were often spent getting ready for “Sunday dinner company”- a tradition from my childhood and culture that has been greatly halted and sabotaged due to you-know-what.

My mother grew up in the era of having “Sunday dishes” and “Sunday silverware.” This carried right into my upbringing. Sunday dinner guests got royal treatment. I remember getting new “Sunday silverware” and being introduced to TWO forks. One big and one small. These were used for very special occasions when we also used salad plates.

But we did not only have company for Sunday lunch.

There were many weekends when friends from near or far would come. There was always a lot of prep work so that when the company was there- we could just enjoy them!

There were also many impromptu parties. Even if all that could be served was popcorn and water!

Every fall- my parents canned great quantities of apple juice and grape juice. Rows of those Mason jars lined the shelves in the fruit cellar. Many a Sunday night included a “Renita, run downstairs for a jar of apple juice.” This was paired with popcorn and whatever snacks my mother was hiding in the cupboard above the freezer out in the back entry! (If you know- you know😊)

My mother had her same lines she used and now sometimes I hear myself saying the words…  

Upon someone complimenting her on a meal- “Well, I hope it is enough to hold body and soul together!” or “Well, I am just glad if you enjoyed it.”

Upon someone saying that they want to come back again- “Well, our door is always open!”

Over my lifetime, I have had many unique experiences being the receptor of others hospitality.

Some memorable times include chasing a dog out from under my bed in a house where I was staying for the night. Once, I was put up into an attic in the dead of January in America. Finally, after putting on my winter coat and tying my hood I fell asleep. (60% of body heat escapes through our heads.) Another time, there was no shower curtain and no towels to be found in the bathroom, and let me tell you, I checked everywhere.

There have been times I have felt like a queen when visiting someone’s home. Plush towels, water bottles and chocolates on the bedside table, coffee and muffins in the morning, laundry services and more. I have, more than not, felt like a privileged guest. And all the experiences along the way formed how I like to make others feel welcome.

Over the past few years, I have been able to observe many different styles of hospitality. And my heart has been warmed by the simplicity that I have seen others serve from. Something that I have been learning is that the most important thing is to be “present over perfect”.

I have had the pleasure of calling more than one country my home in this lifetime, but no matter which side of the Pacific I dwell, and no matter how big or small my home may be, my goal is to always share what I have and give encouragement too!

Heb. 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.”

1 Pet. 4:9 “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Being hospitable applies to all types of relationships. It is foundational in building relationships- being receptive, respectful, and open to others says, “you’re important to me.” If you let others know you value them, they will most likely have a similar feeling about you.

God intends for the world to be able to see Him, by His reflection in his people.

This last year has paused some styles of hospitality. But, maybe, just maybe, when the “doors open” to go back to hosting others whenever you want, it will be less about the perfection and more about being present!

My parents never once said, “Now we are going to teach you about being hospitable.”

But more is caught than taught.

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One thought on “The Gift My Parents Gave Me

  1. Wow, Renita. This is great. You were just a wee girl when we used to visit your home. 🙂

    I can indeed hear your Mom’s voice saying each of those after-dinner phrases and giving the “door-always-open” welcome. Your parents left a rich heritage of Christian hospitality. I always felt like stepping into your home was an opportunity to “let down our Gingrich hair” a little and just relax and be real. What a gift!

    Like

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