Sunday, August 24, 2014

What Would Martha Stewart Do? (hint: Not What Kristin Would Do)

We have a dining room table that comfortably seats 6 when expanded with the extra leaf--although, usually the extra leaf means we've got 8 coming for dinner.  And in our current dining room, we really can't expand the table.  We can't even move the table out from the wall and still have room for everyone to maneuver around it.

That hasn't stopped me from having people over, of course.  But last night looked to be a challenge.  We had 10 adults coming over, plus 3 children and a baby.  Hmm.

I thought about the movie I saw a few weeks ago, the movie that made my friend say, "This movie makes me want to move to the South of France."  I replied, "This movie makes me want to move my dining room table outside." 

I thought about doing that, but we've had brutal heat this week.  And it's been a bad summer in terms of mosquitoes.

So, we moved some living room furniture out of the way, and we moved the dining room table into the living room.  I still had to put out a call for extra chairs, but my guests had some.  I do miss the days of having a house big enough to store folding chairs for just such an occasion.  But we made do.

I don't have a tablecloth big enough to stretch across the dining room table that I rarely expand.  I no longer have a length of cloth that I could use.  But I do have a quilt that was given to me by the women's group at my mom's church when I went to be a retreat leader.  It's a simple quilt, made of squares, machine stitched together, knotted instead of quilted. 

I stretched it across the table.  It had barely enough width, but not quite enough length.  I decided it would do.

As I set the table, I thought, "What would Martha Stewart do?"  Certainly not what I would do.  She would never buy a house that couldn't comfortably accommodate her dining room table.  She probably has a whole house full of tablecloths that fit that table.

But it was a fun evening nonetheless.  I'm glad I didn't let my lack of Martha Stewartness keep me from having people over.

It put me in mind of this blog post on scruffy hospitality, which encourages us not only to come as we are, but to host as we are.  The writer, an Anglican priest, shares his sermon, which has this nugget of wisdom:  "Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together."

I've been making more of an effort to have people over, even if I won't have a chance to deep clean or dust.  My toilet and sink will be clean, but we may eat off paper plates, like we did last night, because we still don't have a working dishwasher.

I know people who never have people over for dinner, and part of me understands.  It might be easier to go out to dinner together.  But that will prevent a lot of us from socializing.

I much prefer to say, "Come on over.  We'll be serving ________.  Feel free to bring a dish, or just bring yourselves."  I don't know about you, but it seems that any gathering of friends these days includes a vegetarian/vegan, a diabetic, and someone who's avoiding gluten.  My theory is that if everyone makes sure to bring something that they can eat, then we'll all be fed.  And if someone comes who hasn't had time to shop, we can feed them too.

Scruffy hospitality!  It probably wouldn't make for a compelling TV show, but it's more of a livable lifestyle than the one that Martha Stewart promotes.

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