1. the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.
I once worried about being the perfect hostess. I would host dinner parties and set out my best china upon layers of tablecloths, placemats, chargers, napkins and table runners. I’d place all the forks in the right place and made sure there were at least two glasses per place setting – one for water, one for whatever else my guest might enjoy.
I made desserts I saw in magazines and arranged 2 feet tall centerpieces fit for a queen.
I soon realized it made most of my guests uncomfortable. My table was really crowded. There was nowhere to sit an elbow. There was confusion about which plate to use for what and a constant fear of knocking over one of the bazillion pieces of stemware covering the area. No one could see each other for all the flowers in the way.
My table was beautiful but it wasn’t friendly nor was it generous. It wasn’t set with my guests’ comfort in mind. I was more concerned with what Martha Stewart might think.
Eventually, I came to my senses. Martha wasn’t ever coming and if she did, she’d also probably live in fear of knocking over her stemware on my little farm table.
So I begin to host gatherings with guest comfort in mind. These days I still use pretty china, but I mix it with my everyday dishes. When guests sit around my table, they have one plate, one glass, one fork and one knife – no confusion and a lot more room for elbows and laughter. Centerpieces tend to be wildflowers stuck in jelly jars, and the food – while delicious – is often more homespun and less magazine-worthy.
No one seems to notice a bit.
If anything the compliments have increased.
It seems having a friendly place where they can be themselves means much more to all who visit than any five-star place setting ever could.
So, this Easter let’s not worry about perfect. Let’s not worry about magazine-worthy tablescapes and starched shirts. Let’s not fret about having award-winning cakes and bigger baskets.
Instead let us be friendly and generous – to others and ourselves. Let us unabashedly serve yummy cakes with sideways icing and set tables with mismatched china and serve heaps of laughter and kindness with our green bean casseroles and honey glazed hams. Let us enjoy both the lovely and the imperfect and celebrate the gift of new beginnings spring brings, around a table set with beautiful memories and plenty of room for elbows.
Wishing you a Happy Easter and a spring of fresh blooms!
Arkansas Women Blogger Jerusalem Jackson Greer is a writer, speaker, nest-fluffer, urban farm-gal and author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together. Jerusalem lives with her husband and two sons in a 1940s cottage in Arkansas at the crossroads of beauty and mess with an ever-changing rotation of pets, including a hen house full of chickens. As a family, they are attempting to live a slower version of modern life. She blogs about all of this and more at http://jerusalemgreer.com