Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Let me entertain the idea of hospitality for a moment. It's a simple concept - to extend welcome. But to me, welcome encompasses so much more - to provide for, to show concern and consideration, to anticipate needs, to facilitate conversations, to give comfort, to ensure everything is on hand - all details taken care of.
The art of hospitality is one I struggle with; in the sense that I strive to be hospitable. A good host. I love to have people over to my home - no matter the occasion. But I often wonder - what makes a good host? It's all of the above but also the ability to fade . . . at least at first.
When I go out to socialize its a struggle for me to not monopolize the conversation. (yes I know those of you who know me can attest to this!) When I am quiet and try to listen - I am often accused of not being myself - or better yet am asked what is 'wrong'? So I generally turn up the volume - ask a lot of questions, share stories and make crappy jokes (I'm assured it's part of my charm)!
But socializing at home is different. I try to engage people with each other. I make introductions, ensure people have what they need - food, drink, place to sit (well depending on how many people are there!) and I attend to details (is there toilet paper in the guest bath? Do coats need to be hung up? Where is that stupid bottle opener? Never eat until the guests have eaten!). I encourage others to feel at home - to help themselves. It's a different version of me - one that I like. I'm suddenly the kind of person who is able to show her care for others without necessarily being at the center of the action.
Soon, the party gets loud - that's when you know its a success. I look around the room and people are talking to each other. Eating, drinking, playing - and I am NOT needed - I have successfully faded! And that when I give myself permission to join in.