Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Dinner Table Discussions

Dictionary, originally uploaded by sAeroZar.

In my family, we didn’t talk at the dinner table—we discussed and debated.

After grace was said and the food was passed around, the conversation would start innocently enough with, “How was your day at school?” However, after a few minutes of hearing the details of three children’s experiences at school, my father would earnestly begin his “lesson.”

My father is not a professional educator. He's a technical school graduate who completed his apprenticeship as a tool and die maker after spending 4 years in the US Navy during the mid 1960’s. But he has loved history and valued learning for as long as I can remember.

Back to the “lesson.” Whether it was inspired by either something we children had recounted earlier, something on the news, or something he had been mulling over, my father always had a lesson. Something to teach. A method for stretching our minds.

Often it began with an open-ended question, which led to more questions from us, then answers (or more questions) from my father. Sometimes these questions led to heated debates between us children, many of which unsettled my mother, the family “peacemaker.”

The mental "calisthenics" might also include a little physical exercise. During a discussion, if we asked where a country was or what a word meant, we never got a direct answer. Instead, we were instructed to “go get the globe” or “go find the dictionary.” After we retrieved said item, my father would encourage us to find the answer ourselves, helping us only if we were stumped. Then back to the discussion at hand, with my father continuing the mental workouts.

And it still continues today. If there’s a meal being served, a discussion’s waiting to begin.

Now, I’m not planning to “hold class” like my father, but I ask that you post your comments to these two questions:

What is your definition of hospitality?

  1. What does hospitality look like?

Here’s the dictionary definition for starters:

hos·pi·tal·i·ty: noun

  1. the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers
  2. the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm friendly, generous way

Please, let’s start the dinner table discussion. What is hospitality?bjh

P.S. Please post your thoughts so I can compile your wisdom and experience for the benefit of ALL BJH visitors! bjh


SheilaDy said...

Dear Nicole,
Hospitality is very near and dear to my heart.
My mother modeled it in our home despite the turmoil that our home was in most of the time! It was a refreshing well, that she filled often, and taught me to draw deep from it's depths.

Thankfully, my home is a peaceful haven, and turmoil is foreign here! Don't get me wrong...we are far from perfect. But we go to great lengths to make sure that our home is a place where our children, our family, our friends, and anyone who walks through our door, can take a deep breath and be themselves! And in doing that, they will be supported and loved, no matter what is going on in their lives.

My definition of hospitality is:
The act of opening the door to your home, as well as the door to your heart to show the love of Christ to all who enter.

What does hospitality look like?:

1. a door swung wide open

2. a warm smile

3. an invitation to sit and relax (as long as that is what everyone is doing)

4. an invitation to be a part of what is happening. (If your guest offers to help, invite them into the kitchen to join the family in preparing the meal. That means a lot to some people. I have been to homes where I was left in the living room to sit, while everyone was in the kitchen. It was very uncomfortable! I would much rather be in there with them, cutting a cucumber to go in the salad.
I think it says to a guest, "We welcome you to be a part of our lives while you are here.")

5. There is nothing more stressful for a guest than an stressed out hostess! Keep things relaxed...the atmosphere, the conversation, the food, the dinnerware. (If you are having a formal meal, it can still be relaxing. I have been to homes where I was terrified that my children would drop a glass that the up-tight hostess had shipped from Italy!)

6. Make your home a friendly-comfortable place. (If I know that the guest has small children, I try to make it as child friendly as possible. I don't want my guest to spend all of their time, trying to keep their toddler from touching my tea cups on the coffee table. I just put them away ahead of time, and there are no worries.

7. Make your home whatever you can do, to make it comfy. (I inform my company that they are welcome to put their stocking feet on the coffee table. It is a solid piece of wood, that I am fine with having people put their feet on. Thirty years down the road, I would much rather have a coffee table that shows the wear of many feet, than a perfect piece of furniture that I worried about. I love the look of "use"! I know a lot of people would disagree with me, so I teach my kids to keep their feet on the floor, unless they are invited to use the coffee table for a foot-stool!"

I could go on all day. I also could go on about what Hospitality does not look like! I will save that for another time. I would love to discuss how to show hospitality at the spur of the moment (unexpected guests) and how to show it without breaking the bank!

To wrap this up...I do my best to make sure that ALL who walk through my door, leave feeling loved, important and accepted. I want them to walk away and be able to say, "when we go to the Taylor's, we feel so loved, and their home is so warm and inviting!" It is not about having the most lovely decor, or about how complicated the menu was, or how fancy the table about making them feel like they mattered!

Nicole said...


Thanks so much for your generosity in sharing your comments on hospitality! Your mother's legacy is one to aspire to.

saerozar said...

Wow, that's so cool that my photos are being recognized through the whole net... now they are even found on blogs! Thank you so much for posting!

I didn't have time to read your blog yet, but anyway, I surely will in the near future!

Greetings, Sascha...