I’m anticipating the arrival of my middle daughter for a sleep over visit. I have done the dishes, swept and mopped the kitchen floor, changed the sheets and made the bed. My 21st century house is maybe about 75 years old. The houses I help keep up at my Old World Wisconsin job are about 135 years old. What remains constant about hospitality? The desire to provide a degree of comfort out of respect for another person. The pride of being able to offer, no matter how humble, an invitation to share what you have with another person, be it space, warmth, food, shelter, peace or love. “For it is in giving that you shall receive.”
I am enjoying a sense of maturity in my ideas about homemaking, a sense of seasoning. As a young wife and mother, I was extremely anxious about entertaining. I felt that everyone who walked through my front door was judging me. I was sure that I wasn’t doing things the “right” way and that everyone could tell that I was faking being a “good” mother. I hardly ever had the sense that people who visited me were actually interested in enjoying time with me. I suppose you could just label that “low self-esteem”. So what does self-esteem have to do with hospitality? Perhaps it’s simply that until you esteem yourself, it’s hard to know how to esteem someone else, or until you know how to be comfortable in your own skin, it’s hard to know how to help another person be comfortable in his or hers. That’s what I want to be able to offer my guests: a place where they can be at peace with themselves, with me, and with their surroundings. A place to experience welcome and contentment — home and hearth.