Finding ways to promote hospitality and kindness
Not too long ago, a bunch of ladies on our street gathered for a “baby shower parade” for a neighbor who’s expecting her third child next week. The parade was organized by a friend who is remarkably talented in hospitality. Even though it had snowed the night before, this friend set up tables, stuck letters spelling out “It’s a Girl!” into the cold, hard ground as best she could, and organized miniature bottles of champagne with a sweet pink ribbon around their necks for the guests to take home and open in celebration when the baby was born. When our expectant neighbor came out to greet us – she didn’t know about the event beforehand – she wiped some joyful tears away, and we all spent the time masked up in her driveway doing what you would normally do during any non-pandemic shower: oohed and aahed over tiny baby outfits and warm receiving blankets, recalled stories of our own labors and deliveries, and basked in the shared little community we had.
It was a great day, made even more special by these little touches that my friend had created something that I, admittedly, am not very skilled in. (I don’t have a good eye for matching color palettes or am gifted in coordinating party favors.) But it was more than just those things: it was the spirit of hospitality that struck me, and the other guests, the most.
What do you think of when you hear that word, “hospitality?” You might think of a hotel manager or a party planner. You might think of the opposite word, “inhospitable.” Or you might picture something warm and inviting. When I think of hospitality, I think of welcoming – of anticipating someone else’s needs or wants and providing it for them for no other reason than enjoyment for someone else’s happiness. It’s letting someone know that you think they’re important enough to make them comfortable.
And interestingly enough, it’s not something that comes easily to everyone! I don’t think it’s always our first instinct to look out for the other people in our lives. There are times when we have to move our own comfort out of the way for someone else, and it’s uncomfortable and undesirable (I’m looking at you, parents of young kids!) But if you’ve been on the receiving end of someone’s unfettered hospitality, you know how special it makes you feel, and that feeling can go a long way.
On a podcast I listened to recently, one of the hosts described a friend of his who is a master at hospitality. He doesn’t drink much beer, but always makes sure to have a case of it in his fridge ready for guests, and that’s because people are more apt to help themselves when it’s offered if there is a lot of beer there, versus if there’s only a couple. My friend, the one who hosted the baby shower, is also thoughtful this way too because when you spend the night at her house, her guest room is outfitted like a bed-and-breakfast, complete with wi-fi password framed by the bed, right next to your own personal Kureig machine.
Is this something you feel you need to do at your home? Probably not and that’s okay! There’s no need to go above and beyond. But I do think that we can all benefit from becoming more hospitable in our lives. What does that look like in a pandemic, when we can’t have people over for a beer? Well, it could look like taking some time to send a text or a Zoom call with a friend you haven’t talked to in a while. It could mean grabbing some extra sundries for a neighbor the next time you’re at the grocery store, or picking up a neighbor’s takeout order when you go to pick yours up. If you have the time (and muscle strength), it could also mean shoveling the sidewalk in front of your neighbor’s house after you shovel your own, or dropping off some donuts for the teachers in your kids’ school on a Friday to celebrate another week in the books.
Whatever it is, your show of hospitality will not only make a difference in someone else’s day, it’ll make a good difference in yours, too!
Until next time, be well!
About the author: Christy Gualtieri is a freelance writer specializing in pop culture, religion, and motherhood. She lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and two children. Christy also blogs at asinglehour.wordpress.com and tweets @agapeflower117. You can follow her here on eTalkTherapy for inspirational articles and different perspectives as they relate to good mental health.