I used to be so afraid of the word “entertaining” and all that it entailed in my mind – a perfect house, cloth napkins, flowers, fancy food, and manners. I put too high of expectations on myself, and what I thought others would expect from me. I would let others volunteer to host dinners, and gatherings, because I knew I couldn’t juggle it all.
In turn, I missed out on many opportunities through the years to gather friends and family around our table to nurture them and love on them in a way that can only be done through a meal.
I hosted a few small gatherings and even a Thanksgiving or two, but it made me anxious, as I was so busy with the details of making sure everyone was perfectly content. As a result, I missed conversations, I often barely ate, and I certainly didn’t enjoy any sort of relaxation in the process. I was always forgetting something that I felt was crucial to their good time. I forgot to lay out extra toilet paper, forgot to refill drinks, forgot that someone didn’t like a dish that I had fixed, forgot to take out the trash.
It might have just been one minor detail, but I felt like it ruined the entire experience.
Well, I’m finally coming around. I’m finally gaining some ground in hosting others in our home and embracing imperfections in the process.
I’m exchanging my slipups for enjoying the opportunity of opening my home, and feeding others. Understanding that the gathering is the significance, not all the fuss of making it perfect.
“The impulse to feed is innate. Food is a language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us…It’s the thing that connects us, that bears our traditions, our sense of home and family, our deepest memories, and, on a practical level, our ability to live and breathe each day. Food matters.” Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes
Much of that has come from putting aside the thought that it had to be elaborate to be entertaining.
Meals shared do not have to be magazine matching perfect and involve recipes from Julia Child’s cookbooks. (Love you, Julia.)
Meals can be take out pizza and a hand-tossed salad, a simple baked oatmeal for overnight guests, a crockpot meal that makes itself so you can worry about other details, deli sandwiches and a few simple sides, or a sampling of appetizers pitch-in style.
The importance lies in the gathering.
The gathering holds significance, not the fuss of making it perfect.