My grandmother Stella knew the meaning of the word hospitality. There was always room at her table for family and friends who popped in after church. She never turned away someone who needed a hot meal or a place to lay their head. She would spend hours in the kitchen making fried apple pies and fried chicken, and she always kept me supplied with homemade apple jelly because she knew it was my favorite. She had a quick wit and a no-nonsense approach to life, and she was loved by everyone she came in contact with, including me. But even Stella had her limits.
My dad recently told a story about a time when he was a young boy and they lived in a holler deep in the Kentucky hills. Corrie and her family lived just down the road, and it is said that Corrie was quite the taskmaster when it came to cleanliness. Her husband wasn’t even allowed to use the indoor plumbing when it was installed – he was relegated to the outhouse on the other side of the garden! One day when Corrie had a mess of fish to fry for dinner, she couldn’t stand the thought of stinking up her just-cleaned house with the fishy odor. So she gathered up her cast iron skillet and the fish, trotted down the path to my grandma’s house, rapped on the door and asked if she could fry her fish on Stella’s stove!
I can only imagine the look on my grandma’s face when Corrie made that request, and what she might have said in that moment; all my dad will say is that Corrie had to find another place to fry her fish.
The definition of hospitality is “the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.” Look for opportunities in your life and in your events where you can be more hospitable. Include the new family on the block in your 4th of July barbecue. Seek out the first-timer at a club meeting and take them under your wing. Arrange for greeters at your conference that are ready with information and a smile. Think of all the ways you can make guests feel welcome, comfortable and appreciated, and make it happen!