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July 6th, 2007 at 01:28 pm

This entry has been percolating inside my head for awhile ...

There were a couple of comments made recently about ungracious houseguests (one was made by me). The one that really stuck with me was the poster who said that a guest was invited to use poster's summer place, then complained because they did not have Starbucks coffee. My heart ached for that person, having their hospitality disrespected like that.

It got me thinking about what hospitality means, and naturally that started me thinking about "Mrs. C."
Ever since I met her, Mrs. C has been my role model for a gracious hostess. Mrs. C is a 70-something California farm wife who I think of as a second mother. It makes me sad that I haven't been able to go see her for several years, but I hope to go again soon.

When I go to Mrs. C's house, I am always greeted with wide open arms and genuine interest about what is going on in my life.

As soon as I arrive, Mrs. C offers me a "refreshment." If it's a hot day, she gives me a nice tall glass of ice water with a big fat wedge of lemon from her tree out back. If it's a cold day, I'm offered a cup of coffee made from "who-knows-or-cares" brand of coffee. If it is evening and she and Mr. C are having a glass of wine, they pour one for me. [Once when I was under the weather, she hand-squeezed a great big glass of OJ for me, using oranges from her yard.] Then I'm invited to perch on a stool in her kitchen while we chat and get caught up on each others lives. I know that eventually the pictures of the grandkids will come out!

A typical meal at Mrs. C's house is pasta with pesto sauce that Mrs. C made using her homegrown basil, then froze in ice cube trays so that she can get exactly the amount she needs, depending on how many people she has over. There are usually one or two side dishes of vegetables, often something from her garden. If there's desert, it's probably a bit of fresh fruit. If you are heading out on a long trip, she pulls a loaf of her famous fruit bread out of the freezer (she makes it in bulk before the holidays and freezes enough for a whole year) and gives it to you to take on your journey.

Tho' it felt odd to do it, I decided to mentally calculate how much Mrs. C spends in order to make her guest (me) feel like the most important person in the world. The answer is: Not very much at all; in fact, next to nothing.

And it's not because Mrs. C doesn't have the resources to go out and buy expensive bottled water or brand-name coffee or take people out to fancy restaurants. Mrs. C's husband is a successful farmer and they live a comfortable but quite simple life. I have no idea of their finances (and I don't care), but if you were to tell me that they are millionaires (or even multi-millionaires) I would not be one bit surprised. Mrs. C just does not feel the need to try to impress people with brand-names or expensive stuff. And, Mrs. C knows that spending a lot of money is not what makes one a good hostess.

The important thing is that Mrs. C's hospitality is offered with warmth, caring, and love.

Even if I get the occasional snub from insecure or snobby visitors, I will not let that bother me and I will continue to offer hospitality "Mrs. C-style."
If you ever get the chance to visit me, I'll be happy to give you a nice glass of ice water, or a cup of coffee. And if I have some chocolate or cookies on hand, I may even share those! Smile

3 Responses to “Hospitality”

  1. Ima saver Says:

    That is all I ever want when I go to visit, a cold glass of ice water!!

  2. miclason Says:

    I'd be content with the chatter and a comfy chair!

  3. boomeyers Says:

    She sounds like a very special lady!

    Wow- you would share chocolate?? You ARE the hostess with the mostest!! Smile

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