Kindling the Fire of Hospitality Part 1: A New Definition
What is Hospitality?
Is Hospitality the same thing as Entertaining? If I entertain, does this mean I am hospitable? To help us clarify, here are some quotes on entertaining I found from famous hostesses:
“What makes a brilliant party? Clothes. Good clothes. A frumpy party is nothing more nor less than a collection of badly dressed persons.” ~Emily Post
“The first requisite… is good liquor. The second is plenty of it.” ~Dorothy Draper
“I like to make arrangements with lots of lemons and oranges, or I take toothpicks and make a fruit sculpture.” ~Giada De Laurentiis
“… I am notorious for my table settings and my dishes. If I’m cooking an Italian meal, I will grab my red Hèrmes china to go with the red sauce.” ~Kris Jenner
“When I was seventeen years old I even had a vegan dinner party that was chronicled in the style section of The New York Times… I wore my grandmother’s Dior, insisted on shoelessness (leather was a no-no), and explained to the reporter that, while I didn’t care much about the Iraq War, I was very concerned by our nation’s casual attitude toward bovine murder.” ~Lena Dunham
“Try filling your medicine cabinet with marbles. Nothing announces a nosy partygoer more successfully than an avalanche of marbles striking a porcelain sink.” ~Amy Sedaris
To my mind, entertaining is an event. Hospitality is a practice. Entertaining needs a place—your home, or perhaps a restaurant, where you put on a party for people you want to make feel special. Hospitality, on the other hand, can be extended in your home or on a public sidewalk, for, no matter where it is, Hospitality creates an atmosphere of ‘I am glad to be with you’ and ‘You are welcome here.’ It has nothing to do with fruit sculptures or, even more chillingly, catching and embarrassing one’s guests for possible foibles.
A hospitable person has a generous spirit, is not interested in impressing others, but rather inviting them into a zone of welcome and belonging. The hospitable person has the delightful gift of making someone feel wanted and cared for.
Here is my definition of Hospitality:
Hospitality is a practice which envelops others in an atmosphere of warmth and welcome, and which creates belonging.
Hospitality is a practice we can carry with us wherever we go. It is like a cloud of welcome, inviting others in, providing safety and goodwill, no ‘entry application’ or pre-approval needed. Because the hospitable person sees others through compassionate eyes, these people feel noticed, sheltered, and included. Hospitable people are an active presence in the world, bringing about a positive, peaceful effect. They are people of blessing.
Just the other day a dear friend said she had to leave early, for she was going to pick up a little girl—one of six children—and take her home for an afternoon of making cookies together. She wanted to give some special, undivided attention to this child. I can just imagine what this act of Grace did for that little girl, and what sweet memories were created by such attention! This is a simple, but beautiful picture of true hospitality, and the sharing of warmth, welcome, and belonging.
I can see a Hospitality Continuum of sorts, starting from the easy, enjoyable forms of hospitality we love, and moving to the more difficult and sacrificial forms which are not easy at all. In the following 3 parts, we will explore this continuum and look more closely at Warmth, Welcome, and Creating Belonging.
“I don’t feel very much like Pooh today,” said Pooh. “There there,” said Piglet. “I’ll bring you tea and honey until you do.” ~A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh
Yours for a return toward Grace, Civility, Beauty, Gentility, and Excellence,