Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Heart of a Hostess

   On New Year's Day I visited my parents' house in Oklahoma City, had a GREAT time all afternoon, and drove back to the farm with my heart full of love. It's always fun to see everyone in our big ol' family, and it turns out that I didn't even leave that early, didn't even miss that much of the party.

   Or so I thought.

   Later that evening I did some goofing around on Facebook and saw photos of lots of people on my parents' front porch. People I did not recognize. Sitting in the same deep, reclining wooden bench where I have sat my whole life. Covered up in blankets in which I have been cuddling daughters and nieces for years. I crinkled my face and searched my memory. Not a scrap of a clue as to these crazy weirdo people's identity. Nothing.

   "WHO THE HECK ARE THESE YAHOOS?!?!" I may or may not have shouted at my laptop. Then I typed a slightly more polite version of my question on Mom's Facebook page. She never responded, and I can only imagine her shaking her head in disappointment, pursing her sweet mouth and blinking slowly.

   "Tsk. Tsk."

   The issue has been on the back burner for a couple of days, but the heat has been on. My curiosity, nay, my sense of trespass, has been simmering.


   So...  Today I went to see my Mom at her office, enjoyed some very sweet chit chat, and was introduced to several of her coworkers. Very nice people. Not strangers at all.

  Then the matter of Strangers on the Front Porch was raised. I took a deep breath because anything was possible in that moment. She could be telling me about siblings I never knew I had. Or that she and Dad had taken up Couch Surfing. Or that I was mistaken in my comment typing and that wasn't her Facebook page at all, but rather a different Parents' House Front Porch in an alternate reality or something like that.

   Nothing could be further for the truth.

   It turns out that Mom was just being Mom. I'd love to tell you what happened.

   A work crew installing fencing down the street had hit a high pressure gas line. This is a serious accident, of course, but fortunately nothing exploded and no one was hurt. The worst that happened is the temporary evacuation of all the people on that side of the street. Mom said that among the evacuees was a family that had just bought their house; they hadn't even finished moving in yet.

   So what happened?

   Mom invited them to her house, where she was still entertaining extended family, may I remind you. They piled onto my childhood her front porch, feeling too cautious or too polite to immediately accept the invitation indoors.

   Mom said they all sat on the front porch for a while, sharing blankets and hot chocolate. Getting to know each other a little bit. And judging from the big smiles on these yahoos' Mom and Dad's new neighbors' faces, everyone was having a great time. Mom told me that later in the evening (it was an hours-long evacuation) they went inside and even ordered pizzas and played games.

   And that is the story of Strangers on the Front Porch.


   Wow. And to think I almost ordered my sweet Momma a copy of the Reluctant Entertainer book for Christmas. She doesn't credit herself in this way, but she is a natural hostess. Her heart is in exactly the condition that hostessing requires: open, warm, and sensitive to the needs of others. Ready to bless, not impress, as Sandy Coughlin teaches.

Reluctant Entertainer, The: Every Woman's Guide to Simple and Gracious Hospitality

   Okay, I am definitely ordering her the book anyway. She needs to know how natural she is. I love you Momma.

Stranger Danger, You Guys!!!!
But seriously, Open Your Hearts Before You Open Your Homes.



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