dinner party

Tomato-stained stoves and dusty windowsills

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by Tsh

Tsh is the founder of this blog and is currently traveling around the world with her husband and 3 kids. Her latest book is Notes From a Blue Bike, and believes a passport is one of the world's greatest textbooks.

As you start this week, may you shoo away any thought that whispers that your home isn’t good enough for table company. May you pick up the phone today and text that person you’ve wanted to invite over to share bread, coffee, whatever.

I told Myquillyn in our most recent podcast that one of my biggest takeaways from our family’s road trip was the beauty of hospitality in the midst of the mess. We were welcomed warmly in countless homes, each of them tidy but none of them perfect.

From the oatmeal-colored walls in North Carolina to the turquoise cabinets in Encinitas; from the snowhill in the New York backyard to the sand in our toes in the Bay Area, not one house resembled a pristine magazine photo shoot. But as I sat at each of their tables, in that moment, I didn’t want to be anywhere else.

Now that we’ve been back in our home for about three weeks (sounds so long, and yet I can’t believe we haven’t even been back a month), we’ve made a point to have friends in our home—preferably for a meal—several times a week. Warts and all.

My scattered friends reminded me the simple pleasures of conversation and company over a home-cooked meal, even with a full laundry basket peeking in the corner. So I’ve decided to shake off my need for ducks in a row, and have reignited my delight in offering a friend a glass of wine with tomato sauce still crusted on the stovetop behind me.

I’m all for a simple home. But simple doesn’t  require perfection.   There is great delight  in welcoming  solid company near your dusty windowsills. (They’re perfect for sitting down a glass of iced tea.)

I’m all for a simple home. But simple doesn’t require perfection. There is great delight in welcoming solid company near your dusty windowsills. They’re perfect for sitting down a glass of iced tea.

Who are you going to invite over to your home this week?

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Comments

  1. I love having neighbors and friends over for dinner… I’ve always said I think it’s silly that we all retreat to our own private homes to make our own dinners, rather than gathering with our neighbors. I’m getting better about not having the house be perfect. I need to remind myself that when I go to other’s homes, I’m not scanning for the dust or laundry piles — I’m simply enjoying the hospitality!

  2. You are so right. I have a girlfriend who has been asking to come over for coffee but I have been pushing it off. Her house is always immaculate and mine is not and I don’t want her to see that. But I also have so many other things on my priority list other than dusting.
    I’m just going to have her over; I know she won’t care, it’s my hang-up.

  3. The mother of a dear friend of mine always said “if you don’t mind our mess, we don’t mind you.” Her house is one of my favorite places in the world to visit, happy chaos and all. :) It’s funny, but the friends who inspire me to hospitality tend to be the ones who offer me take out pizza on a plastic folding table in their living room (because there isn’t any space for a table in the kitchen).

  4. So true. It’s very hard but worth working on. The payback is huge :-)

  5. Oh, this is so true! It helps me so much to remember that after leaving a friend’s home, I’m not thinking about how cute everything was–I’m just glad to have spent quality time together.

    This week, we are hosting my daughter’s “fairy princess club” (= two little girls in princess attire drinking tea) and another family for dinner.

  6. Business acquaintance. And I always start the housework with the public areas, plus the more accessible bathroom. That way if I run out of time the doors can be closed on the rest.
    Now I am off to get last week’ s 3 dust storms off my front porch. Thinking of vacuuming it off; broom will only stir it up again.

  7. Yes! Funny, I just recently wrote about ‘house-perfect’ stress :) http://sharonholbrook.com/2014/04/18/home-in-ten-house-perfect-stress/

  8. I am having family and extended family visit me next week. I had an option to get very stressed about cleaning, but have decided to just medium-stressed. I will put some things away, vacuum, dust, and clean the bathroom – but I won’t spend time organizing cabinets, printing photos to hang on the wall, redoing our living room curtains that desperately need replacing, or rearranging the furniture I wanted rearranged before their visit. I’m looking forward to spending time with them and don’t want to be too tired to enjoy myself, or too absent-minded thinking of all the things I should have done.

  9. I have had to really work on this idea of the house not being super clean for company. I grew up with our house having to be “spic or span” when guests came. It’s starting to be okay if my house doesn’t looks perfectly put together. The sweetest thing I’ve had happen was when our friends came over and helped me deep clean my house. That took a lot of humility on my end but was an extremely thoughtful act of love from our friends.

  10. This is so very true and something that did not learn until recently. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. I love this! Over the past year I’ve been learning how to be fine with “imperfect” hospitality. My biggest lesson is that no one really notices those messes except me! What makes the most important impression is a willingness to let someone come into your space and into your life- imperfections and all!

    I wrote a little blog series last week called “Hospitality for Dummies” that’s on this exact theme!
    http://watsonsonline.wordpress.com/2014/04/22/hospitality-for-dummies-the-first-hurdle/

  12. There is also something really cool about inviting NEW friends (future possible friends) over and not having a perfect home because what you’re doing is allowing them to breath and understand the real you (tomato stains, last night’s wine glass still on the counter, and dog hair everywhere … and all).

    We are having friends over tomorrow for a spontaneous pool party and beer drinking session. While the house does happen to be sparkling 24/7 for home showings, I’ve gotten better lately about just letting it be and concentrating instead of enjoying the company.

  13. Thanks, Tsh, for giving us permission to be real. The exhale. To genuinely connect with people without trying to impress. This is how I grew up. To this day when I go to my grandmother’s house, it’s full of clutter, dust, and stuff, but she always has open arms, food on the stove, and a place to sit and connect. I miss that way of life. We didn’t schedule visits with friends or family. Anyone was welcome, at anytime. You just stop what you’re doing, and chat or they join you in your work.

    In this culture, we must intentionally live this way. I appreciate your efforts to lead us back to what we really long for–connectedness.

  14. avatar
    Karen C says:

    Very timely! We are having people over tonight and I’m certainly feeling the stress of a preparing-to-move-overseas house. Great reminder that we can welcome people into our real lives and the joy of friendship is much bigger than how clean or put together the house is.

  15. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea shell
    and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She put the shell to her ear and
    screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off topic but I had to tell
    someone!

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