Sunday, June 26, 2011

Entertaining Angels Unawares

Another activity my parents loved was entertaining. They had this beautiful 9 room Victorian house that my dad had always wanted since he was a child. He was walking one day and saw it was for sale. He talked to Coe Byers, the owner, proceeded to the bank and secured it with a thousand dollars. My mother had mixed feelings about this because they had recently completed a remodeling job in their current house. But that house really was too small for our family as Uncle Dave still lived with us, my sisters were teenagers, with my brother a recent one and no bedroom for a 3 year old-me.
I believe my sister had the first party for her 16th birthday. It was still empty with those vast rooms. The walls were a sick pepto bismal pink and the hard wood floors kind of bowed. Let more remodeling begin. I still can see myself standing over those weak spots after the bluegreen carpet was installed, wondering how far that hole went...
Many open houses, going away and coming home parties, Christmas parties and informal movie nights- before all the VCR's, cable and other choices in entertainment- graced our home. Being with each other was the entertainment.
One Sunday in church, my father pointed out to my mother a row of college students sitting in a pew nearer the front of the church. Before Mom knew, they were invited for lunch. A singing group, The Colony from Sterling College where my oldest sister graduated, delighted to get a free meal. My father hardly had invited them than he was off to Kentucky Fried Chicken 6 miles away for lunch. My mother had quit trying to time dinner after Rev. Hatch went over on the sermon one time and the pork chops were very hard. The weather was sunny as it was summer break and the impromptu picnic occurred.
Another time the Ray Fentons were in town. Maxine, you may remember was the nurse who helped my mom through her ectopic pregnancy. They were very close friends of my parents. I stayed at their house outside Chicago when I was very small. Ray mentored my father in his spiritual growth. In fact they were so close, if I had been a boy my name would have been Raymond Gerald. They too came for lunch, but I believe that may have been planned.
I feel bad at times that I do not have that instantly invite someone over for lunch quality. Our culture today, we're more likely to take someone out to lunch than have them come to our home. Mine is usually a pig sty and I never feel ready for those unexpected guests. I envy the home I grew up in, if you couldn't tell. When we were looking for homes many years ago, one owner was saying how much easier it is to hide clutter, dirt in a big house. Close a few doors, run your apron over an end table or two and voila! it's presentable. I know, my toy room was one of those rooms that the door was almost always shut. My mom also had the whole family helping, even Dan. He was good at cleaning the oven.
I guess the main thing is to watch for those singing college kids or former preachers and have fun. We're to be relaxed, making our guests feel special. Hospitality is not having home beautiful, but loving on people.


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