Macaroni and Cheese Hospitality

by Bailey on April 4, 2011 in Hospitality

Here at our house, we take hospitality seriously. The night of my sixteenth birthday party we stayed up on our feet till late hours, putting the finishing touches on the three birthday cakes, the well-dressed tables, the place cards, the tripled menu—everything. Everyone had an amazing time (and my feet hurt like crazy for the next few days).

No doubt about it—a well-planned evening filled with good food and good friends can’t be beat. My mother is my heroine when it comes to hospitality. She knows how to keep her house in shape to receive company with only minimal cleaning, and with our big family, she’s used to feeding crowds. And did I mention we’re perfectionists? We love to have everything just so and unlike any other hospitality experience. (P.S. With several young ones—what can I say? It’s definitely unlike any other hospitality experience.)

That’s all very good. The problem comes, however, when that perfectionist mentality gets in the way of the true heart of hospitality. Let me explain.

The other day at church my mother was met with a very bouncy, very excited plea to have so-and-so over for dinner that day. Her bewildered look said, “How did I ever manage sixteen years with this child?” She said—“Well, what will we feed them?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I’ll make something. Please?”

I violated two family rules in this encounter. Firstly, the application process was rushed far too quickly. To be completely legal, a request to have so-and-so over must be brought up weeks—months—in advance, and that just to have them nominated for the nomination category. After a process of elimination, the nominated nominees are weeded out into the official nominees—and then we can select our guest (sometimes with pleas and promises not intended to be kept) and plan the dinner.

Secondly, there is no way anybody is stepping foot in our house unless at leastthe living room’s dusted and there’s a hot, respectable meal on the table. We take our hospitality very seriously, as I said. We want to ensure that everything’s under control, that everyone can relax and enjoy the encounter, that our house won’t be chaotic and uninviting. We aren’t always fancy, but we’re always complimented on a clean house and good food—lots of it. That takes some planning.

And that prohibits spur-of-the-moment lunch invitations on leftover day.

But in the face of ecstasy, my mother, with my oft-repeated assurance of handling lunch, surrendered—as long as Daddy approved. I think I let out a whoop. (I’m working on the ladylike part. Truly I am.)

All that was left was the logistics of hospitality.

“So what’ll we have?” my mother asked.

“Well,” I replied, thinking that our Sunday leftover buffet didn’t make the cut, “I can make macaroni and cheese. From the Velveeta cheese box.”

And sandwiches.

That’s it. We spent about twenty minutes setting everything out buffet-style on nice platters, cleaning up the house, putting mismatched Christmas and “Let It Snow!” placemats on the table and waiting for company to arrive. It was a snap to make and a snap to clean up and the whole rest of the day was just fun.

I was even complimented on the macaroni and cheese.

There have been other spur-of-the-moment hospitality ventures that have borne fruit too—the single, brand-new visitor at church who was content to share our leftovers and our home with us for a few hours that afternoon. Extending a “won’t you join us for lunch?” invitation to friends who just stopped by to chat for a minute. Precious times that have gone down in memory and yet wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t just opened up and offered—without the big plans.

How many people could we reach out to and bless if our hospitality was spontaneous—because our hearts (even if not our menu plans) were always in order? That’s what I remember after visits. The hugs. The laughter. The heart-to-heart chats.

A few toys scattered here and there or the fancy plates and gourmet meal—not so much.

I can’t remember what flatware our last hostess used, but I can tell you that the meal was good, the fellowship even better and the hug she gave after we left made me want to spend a few more days there.

Opening up our homes is more than opening up the door—it’s opening up our hearts. And if that love and warmth is dished up, even the plainest dinner of macaroni and cheese becomes one of the best meals ever.

Bailey @ Big House in the Little Woods

Bailey

Bailey is a seventeen-year-old homeschooler in love with anything literary or theological. The second oldest of nine children, she finds joy in romping with her younger siblings, scribbling in her ever-expanding notebook and trying her hand at the home arts.

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{ 9 comments }

Rambling Heather April 4, 2011

This is beautiful and so true. I find myself constantly reminding my heart that in hospitality loving people in most important. Lovely

Mrs. Zwieg April 4, 2011

I grew up in that house! Only just this year have I been learning to let go and be comfortable about it. I am so excited to see where this adventure leads! 🙂

Kara April 4, 2011

…Very much agree…and sometimes people feel more comfortable when they visit you in “real life” mode. I shared about some of our mac-and-cheese friends on Friday night’s post…but I call them “left-over friends”…the kind you can invite over spontaneously and even serve left-overs to, if needed.

Good post getting to the heart of hospitality….

Beth Werner Lee April 4, 2011

Bailey, you are absolutely right! I think this post is an excellent example of application of the Mary and Martha story (which is so concise), and the importance of hospitality.

Ellen Gerwitz April 4, 2011

Bailey,

Just want to say that I really enjoy your blog. And the man who gets to have you for his wife someday is going to be one lucky dude! Ditto for your future mother-in-law.

God Bless!
Ellen Gerwitz
Rochester, NY

Kara April 4, 2011

Your post is beautifully written, and so true! I love your Raising Home-Makers posts. 🙂

*hugs*

sara April 4, 2011

Love your post! My perfectionist mentality definitely gets in my way! Oh…and my somewhat imperfect cleaning routine. Wonder how that happened! Lots of work to do on both of these issues, but your post provides great inspiration!

Daisy April 4, 2011

From 2007-2009, we never had any guest over. I never hosted anything. My home was weird looking. No furniture or anything or they didn’t match! So, that just means, I never knew a thing about hosting.

Fast forward, 2010, we got new furniture by the grace of God. I opened my home and so new to this process.. I was becoming a perfectionist but have always been all my life.
Little by little i started to host more and next thing I knew I was never cleaning before the guests came. I only picked up some things and that was it, as my home was already clean.
I love hosting and don’t ever mind if people drop by because my home is always ready for them.
I invite friends over here and there during the day and they love it here.
No one ever care about your matching plates, furniture, or clean home but they do notice.
We want to always be ready for guests. Our God is an orderly God. We need to be orderly. Not perfect, but orderly.
Just a thought.

-LadyRahel- November 30, 2011

Love this! I really wish my family were more of the spontaneous type in this respect.

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