01 July 2009

Christian Hospitality, Big Family Edition

My opinion.

1. Offer it whenever you possibly can. Make your offer specific ("We'd be glad to host you for two nights, but we already have plans to be away during the dinner hour on Thursday").

2. Do not ask for it from anyone to whom you are not related or very, very close* if you have more than three children. Yes, we need it the most, but we are also terribly burdensome to house and feed (more than we realize, because we're used to the crying, chaos, and vanishing gallons of milk). It is an imposition for us to ask. The Lord will provide one way or another, whether through a kind person's unexpected offer (see #1), a change of plans, a surge of resourcefulness, a surprise bonus, a humble submission to reality, or some other means. This is one of the crosses we must bear, and far from the heaviest if you ask me.

3. Do not drop by "just passing through" with a van full of kids at mealtime. Do not stay so long that a planned one-meal visit turns into a two-meal visit. Do not put a host on the spot. "Maybe they'll invite us in" is never an acceptable meal plan.

4. If there is someone whom you'd like to see while you are traveling, invite them to a picnic or a restaurant meal with your family, compliments of your house.

5. If the hand of hospitality is extended to your family, it is fitting for the value of your hostess gift to correspond to the size of your family (unless your host's family is larger).

*I offer myself as an example of a person who does not consider herself very, very close to anyone whom she only knows via the Internet, even though we're all identical soul mates. No hard feelings, cherished readers. ;)


The Rev. BT Ball said...

Have I ever brought a hostess gift to your home? Are wives in charge of this?
Clueless, BB

Rebekah said...

:D Godparents don't have to bring anything; besides, I recall receiving a lovely bouquet of regifted flowers at your last visit.

Wives are pretty much in charge of this, and I felt a guilty twinge as I wrote this remembering that we showed up with nothing but whining kids and empty stomachs the last time we trashed your house.

Gauntlets said...

I say! From here on out, I will strap 'round the neck of each delightful progeny a keg of refreshment--to be used in case of emergency--thereby negating each child's need to be seen at all during any visit to anyone's house ever. Because this sounds like a really good idea and I thank you for the inspiration.

But really, we're only interested in coming to your house and seeing you. So. Here we come.

JenniferH said...

Since we are not *close* but know each other from more than the internet (having once shared ridiculous traffic in a small manual-transmission pickup and certainly more ridiculous crazed phone callers), please consider yourself welcome in our home for your one-night limit should you ever** find yourself in the Northwoods. Large Lutheran brood included. You may get a food-bank-inspired meal, but we'd live the craziness and swap your dry humor for some Christian hospitality. We'll go crazy and have Hubbards over too.

**And by "ever" I mean in a month warm enough for many small children to play outside and burn some energy.

Rebekah said...

Wow, I'm really glad that everyone of whom I've been a terrible guest is showing up in the comments!

JenniferH, the way I remember it is that we owe you dinner, so you'd better make it down this way first.

Gauntlets, I'd recount my innumerable offenses against you but I'm hoping you've begun forgetting some of them so I'll just issue a general apology again for being a terrible friend.

Pam said...

Awww, I'm sorry to say, Rebekah, but I'm finding myself depressed reading this.

SO, so, so true. We are what we are, and unless another family lives the craziness too, it really IS an imposition, whether they'll admit it or not. :o(

But, but... that makes life all the lonelier.

Rebekah said...

Even worse, Pam, another family living the craziness is often in no position to take in 6-12 more people, much as we'd like to. :( Is there anything worse than company when you have a newborn?

Gauntlets said...

Ha, HA! What goes around comes around, and I seem to remember being very like a locust for more than one Sunday a month, month after month after month after . . .

So, you know. Not that you're a locust. Not a bit of it. More like a . . . katydid? No, that's not right, either . . .

Besides, I like your kids. I hope to co-opt one of them before all is said and done.

Melrose said...

These are all fine and good, and I shall copy and paste them as a reminder for myself.

Once when I was in highschool I entered a contest for a Christian magazine. I made my way to the final 8 of over 5000 applications. For the final phase each person's pastor had to fill out a description and answer questions about the applicant. I remember specifically reading something my pastor had written that I wasn't quite sure how to take at the time. It said, "Exemplifies the Christian spirit by being just as willing and joyful to give as she is when she receives." At first I was a little embarased...like maybe I did a little too much receiving and not enough giving. And while that may have been true at times in my life...It certainly isn't now :D yay for motherhood.

I would love it if everyone I knew lived by such rules of care and concern for their neighbor...but then again, what else teaches a pious mother of many Christian grace and virtue than being tested and put on the spot? And how else is life supposed to be interesting and fun? After all...we only have so long before our homes are emtpy and we'd give anything for a loud visit from many. :)

Come one, come all, I can't promise to put out a spread to be adored, but I promise at least I'll have bread and butter. ;) maybe. :D

Pam said...

Well, folks...

I've never been good at the 'propers' of social life, such as thank-you notes, etc., so I'm not any better at this. (Hostess gift? What a novel idea.)

I will say that while we don't have accomodations for sleeping a passel of people off the floor on actual *beds* per se, we would always be happy to host any-size family for a meal, a night, whatever.

Of course my definition of host means you can stay here, but I don't do entertaining. Like my great-aunt who, when my grandparents would visit, had their whole visit planned with activites for them. That I DON'T do.

But if you're up for some informal, real-life, lived-in kinda socialization and accomodations, the door's open. The more, the merrier.

lisa said...

Melrose, I've had dinner at your house. It is DEFINITELY to be adored!!! :)

The Mama said...

Ditto lisa, there- Melrose, you are a great hostess!