A Great Idea for a Dinner Party

Living with flair means cultivating the art of hospitality.  I’m learning what it looks like to let everybody take part.  You give up control, you accept the mess, and you let people bring their own flair. 

Last night, we decorate the counter top with all sorts of ingredients, hand folks a tiny baking pan, and let them build their own lasagnas.

Noodles, ricotta cheese, mozzarella, onion, green peppers, basil, meat, sauce–even mushrooms!  We broke the noodles in half and cooked them first. 

I indulge in cheese and basil in every layer. 

Everyone finishes, and we put the lasagnas in a 375 degree oven for 30 minutes. 

Then, we feast.   I just had to show you. 

 Hospitality can be a group effort.
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Journal:  What can I do to personalize my next gathering so folks participate in the hospitality? 

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Would We Have Done This?

Down the big hill and towards the school, some new neighbors moved in last Spring.  I met them once, and since then, our paths have not crossed.  Nobody on my street really knows them. 

Our community holds Trick-or-Treating on Thursday night, and as we approach this new family’s house last night, we are already freezing in the darkness as wind whips underneath our costumes.  Then, I see a sign in the yard.  It says: “Wecome!  Come in for Hot Chocolate, Cider, Coffee, Tea, and Donuts.”  Like a beacon of warmth and cheer, that house glows from the sidewalk.

We can’t resist.  We swarm the place.  We stay awhile.   

The family nobody knows cleaned out their garage and turned it into a little barn with tables and chairs for neighbors to rest during Trick-or Treating.  The couple dressed up as farmers, and as they pour cider and pass out donuts to us–strangers–they laugh and smile and introduce themselves.

The family none of us knows is now the family that everybody knows.

This family models how to enter a community with flair.   The next time I feel lonely, left out, or unknown because I’m the new kid on the block, I’m not going to wait around for the Welcome Wagon.  I’m going to make a sign, clear a space, and offer the kind of hospitality that folks can’t resist.  The kind of hospitality that makes people stay awhile. 

I love my neighborhood.

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The Extra Chair Revolution

A revolutionary is a person who actively participates in a revolution. A revolution, I just read, is defined as: a drastic and far-reaching change of thought and behavior. Defined this way, I like to think about my search for daily flair as a revolution for me. It’s a daily choice to find the good, the beautiful, and the meaningful in the rut and hum-drum of a life. And once I notice it, I have to proclaim it and act in response to it. I want to revolutionize the dark days; I want to let the light in.

Last night, a boy knocked on the door with little marshmallows and toothpicks in his hand. He invited my girls to help him build structures out of these materials.  Afterward, they were outside, running barefoot, playing hide-n-seek in the yard.

I cooked dinner with my husband. Nothing fancy: burgers, some pasta, some corn, some sweet potatoes. All of a sudden, the little boy came into the kitchen and said: “I’ve got to call my Mom.”
“Is everything OK?” I asked.
“Yeah. I just gotta call her. I’m gonna tell her I should probably stay for dinner.” Apparently, the kids smelled the food cooking.
“Sounds good.” I smiled. I love impromptu dinner guests. In fact, I keep three extra chairs on standby with extra place mats for our round table. Years ago, my husband and I had this policy that we’d always make more food than we needed for a “just-in-case” dinner guest. Every so often, a student or a friend will stop by, and as 6:00 PM rolls by, I just pull up the extra chair. We’ve never had to say we didn’t have enough for dinner guests.
It’s a hospitality revolution for us. My house isn’t clean. The food isn’t anything great. I didn’t have to send out invitations or have party favors or anything. I just had to pull out an extra chair. Spontaneous hospitality for the neighbors is part of our lives now.
Having barefoot kids coming in for dinner and then rushing out for another game of hide-n-seek was my flair for today. I’m so glad I had extra corn and burgers just in case.
Living with flair has something to do with being a neighborhood revolutionary. It means having extra chairs to pull around a dinner table. It means having friends who know they should probably stay for dinner.
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