To be honest, I come from a family with a strong tradition of imperfection. Wonderful, funny, kind, responsible, wise, dear people who are absolutely imperfect. Much like me. Much like you. The thing about my people is, we’re pretty much doers. We accomplish a lot. We work, have pets, we cook, we read, we scrapbook, we garden, we fish, we can, we knit, we camp, we homeschool. I’m not sure that any of us do all of these things, but most of us do a lot of them. Our homes reflect our busy, interesting lives. They also tend to reflect the fact that none of us keeps a maid on staff. However, that has never prevented my darling mother or my sweet grandmothers, my lovely aunts, and, I presume, my wonderful cousins, from opening their homes, apartments, and dorm rooms to friends and family, whether for a cry and a cup of tea, or for takeout tacos, or a full-blown meal, with dessert. I aspire to that kind of hospitality. And here’s what I’m doing to reach that goal:
I’m making sure that I never leave the house unless it is perfectly spotless. I have a standing order for delicious organic, gluten-free, sugar-free, low-sodium snacks and never let my pantry run low on any of these items. I’m taking gourmet cooking classes to impress my guests with insouciant interpretations of peasant food. I’m buying all new furniture. I’m redecorating the guest bedroom. I’m getting a T-1 line so that I will have incredibly fast and virtually unlimited internet access and streaming at all times. I’m instructing my butler to offer freshly squeezed lemonade to anyone who drops by.
Wait. Sorry. That must be the list from my other life.
Here’s what I’m really doing:
- I’m accepting imperfection.
- I’m inviting people over at specific dates and times.
- I’m giving my address and phone number to friends and to people who I want to be friends with.
- I’m telling people that if they give me 10 minutes notice, and I am there and not on my way out the door, that they are welcome to come over. And that I really mean it.
- I’m telling people that I will be honest about whether their visit is convenient, so they won’t have to worry about whether or not they are inconveniencing me.
- I’m going to keep an empty laundry basket available for those times when I just need to sweep everything off the couch and the coffee table to make the living room look semi-presentable.
- I’m going to burn my lovely candles for ambient lighting and to at least partially disguise the occasional reminders that we own two gorgeous cats.
- I’m going to keep some snacks handy, and some coffee and tea, with a variety of sweeteners.
- I’m going to look at my craft room and try to come up with projects to do with people when they are here.
- I’m going to let them catch me in the act of loading the dishwasher and starting a load of laundry.
- I’m hoping that my home will be a hospitable one.