It’s a still, quiet morning, and I have to admit that November is growing on me. It’s a hard act to follow September and October. But most of the hustle and bustle of getting wood in, cleaning the garden, canning, and trading tees for turtlenecks has been accomplished.
The great work of November is preparing to give thanks. We’re excited to have extended family and family-by-extension join us in two weeks. And I have a new cookbook this year: Thanksgiving 101 by Rick Rodgers. Yay!
Our recent trip to San Francisco has got me thinking. We were the recipients of gracious hospitality at every stop along the way. Hospitality is an art; I find myself needing refresher courses at various waypoints in my life.
The best way to learn to be a host is to be a guest.
The best way to learn to be a guest is to host others.
Here’s a short practicum on what I’ve learned over the years up through last week:
~ As a host
The most important thing is to be welcoming. If you can see your guests arrive, go to them to meet and greet. Thank them for coming. If you are in the midst of a cleaning frenzy, stop. People are more important.
As a host, give your guests the best you can offer. Bestow honor.
Give instructions in advance if your shower has a peculiar operations system.
If you have a guest room, a pleasant basket of goodies can include bottled water, lotion, a mint, magazine, pad of paper and pen.
Find ways to bless your guests as they go. A sandwich to go, a bottle of water, a bag of scones. On this trip, one of our hosts washed the windshield and windows of our car while we were packing up. He learned it from a motel (*some* motel!) and has done it ever since. It was a lovely grace.
~ As a guest
The most important thing is to be thankful and appreciative. Express thanks for the efforts made on your behalf.
It is good to bring a small gift: a bottle of wine, a bunch of flowers, a bottle of lotion, a book (of course), a hunk of cheese, or a loaf of banana bread.
Be accommodating. That means helpful and obliging. Help set or clear the table. If there are young children in the house, read them a book.
Let your host know in advance if you have dietary restrictions. I will gladly make vegan dishes for vegan friends; but meat is the default at our house!
Keep your things together and out of the way. This applies even when your host has a relaxed housekeeping style.
If your host doesn’t mind, strip the bed linens before you leave.
Write thank you notes. Really organized people leave them on the pillow. The rest of us mortals send them within, ahem, a month’s time!
The wonderful thing is that hosting and guesting begin and end with thanksgiving. Gratitude is the lubricant that smooths relationships.