Hospitality is …

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

This special season, quickly upon us and just as quickly behind us, was indeed one in which those who have the gift of hospitality have enjoyed welcoming others into their homes with warmth and kindness. There have been many opportunities during the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year holidays for us to both give and receive acts of cordial welcomes, to offer others friendly neighborliness, or to share, gladly , a cup of tea, or simply a moment of joy.
Bill and I have been more receivers than givers this year it seems; and I have made a long list of the many folks to whom I owe Thank You notes for their invitations to meals, drop-ins, and parties. These events were so full of good food, music, and hearty laughter that we have both enjoyed a bounty of good will, but also the dismay of added weight gain. . .oh my, our stretchy waistlines have extended to their limits and I am afraid a severe diet is part of our New Year’s resolutions!
I am quite sure our kind friends never intended these results when they laid out their smorgasbord of goodies; slices of fruitcake, rum balls, fudge squares, as well as iced and decorated sugar cookies only seen once a year and therefore greedily inhaled by us and others while standing over a gaily dressed table, blazing with beautiful candles and set with the hostesses’ best silver and china. Who can resist the gluttony inspired by such beautifully prepared finger foods, and who can say no to a plate laden with “left-overs” that is foisted upon us as we prepare to leave the Pot Luck or the dinner party?
From Jennie and Tom’s happy wedding party with its playful Wonderland theme (there was one room where the chandelier dripped with candy as did every other flat surface in the Woods’ lovely historic home) almost 60 days ago, to the more intimate pre-New Year’s Eve drinks, snacks and karaoke party hosted by the very generous Schuyler’s, this whirlwind of pleasurable hospitality has been remarkable.
There has been such an outpouring of “good cheer,” of sincere welcoming, of lovely gestures, of thoughtful gifts, (even the White Elephant gifts were so great no one wanted to trade at the Writers Guild Annual Party), and of hospitality on a scale I have not seen in a very long time. Of course, as always, churches in our community have opened their doors and their hearts: sharing missionary gifts like the 300 plus “Shoeboxes” the Sharpsburg Baptist Church sent to children in India and Indonesia, and their potluck dinner before the Christmas Cantata; like the historic Senoia Methodist Church sharing their glorious hand bell choir which signaled the coming season during the Senoia Candlelight Tour of Homes. That congregation continued the gift of music and song with the Advent’s special “Lessons and Carols” service which we attended with many of the community. We were welcomed with such warmth that one could only be reminded of the scripture from Hebrews, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers; for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” Perhaps they expected those angels; they certainly got glad visitors!
That scripture has always left me wondering about coincidences in my life where strangers have indeed appeared in my life, who have become a part of my life for a short but meaningful period, then have simply moved on, actually disappeared from our lives. My mother offered “hospitality “to many virtual strangers over the years (I often slept on the couch while some unfortunate got my bedroom), and I, having learned her brand of hospitality, brought home a number of lost souls over the years, maybe their souls were not lost, but they needed a place to rest from some unhappiness and Bill and I were pleased to offer our home. I am so grateful to have been given those opportunities; one “guest” became like a daughter, her children—little angels.
What else does hospitality mean in my life…well, I just remembered that once long, long ago, I had a job title that read “Hospitality Director—Holiday Inn.” As Executive Secretary to the owner of that Augusta hotel (one of several he owned), I was to help guests plan Wedding Receptions, Banquets, and business functions in our meeting and banquet rooms. Full circle. I am now a type of Hospitality envoy for the Senoia History Museum, a docent on Fridays or Saturdays whose job it is to introduce our town’s past to visitors, telling stories and showing artifacts to out-of-towners, making them feel welcome and comfortable and happy that they chose to visit our town.
It is also such fun hosting ladies at my two Book Clubs (sometimes in costume or around a themed event), and it is a pleasure to offer a cup of tea and homemade pound cake, perhaps a simple lunch on the screened in porch, or perhaps coffee with cream and Bill’s special recipe for Tea Cakes in our home to dear sweet friends.
May we say to any delightful future guests that we may welcome tomorrow or in the future (and any angels among them)—Happy New Year!!

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