Is hospitality dead?

Discussion in 'Countryside Families' started by organicfarmer, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. organicfarmer

    organicfarmer Well-Known Member

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    DH and I like to have people over on Sundays after church (we do not have a lot of extended family close by). Over the past year we have extended many invitations to people and have had them for a meal. We have not received reciprocal invitations to their homes. Do people simply not do this anymore? We are wondering if it is us (we are a friendly homeschooling family with 5 children on a farm, but our lifestyle could intimidate people) or is NA society just too busy for fellowship time anymore? We moved here 1 1/2 years ago and belong to a caring bible believing church, but do not seem to be able to connect and form close friendships with people.

    Thoughts would be appreciated, as life gets lonely here sometimes.
     
  2. Faustus

    Faustus Übernerd

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    I know that at home, my mother always wants to have people over, it's just a question of time. Of course, she doesn't really have time to go to anyone else's house, either, so it's not a question of failing to reciprocate for a dinner invite or something. We just got an addition put on our house, though, so she's really hoping to start having the relatives up more, having more people over for barbecues, that kind of thing. But her failure to invite friends over more often isn't malicious at all, only a case of, "Wow, we haven't seen the so-and-sos in forever, we really need to have them over for dinner or something. But my class is doing their play tomorrow night, I have progress reports to do, we have parent/teacher conferences...." Everyone's just busy, I guess.

    I don't think it's a question of religious beliefs (i.e. Bible-believing churches or not, synagogue attendance, whatever), from what I've seen- seems to be a lot of this going around. People get hung up in the daily, usually busy routine and just forget to make time for themselves and to socialize with others. My mom's big social thing most weeks is doing meals on wheels (she's an Episcopalian- goes to church pretty much every week). I tell her to let the grading go for a night and go see a movie or something, but I'm her kid, she doesn't really want to hear that from me. Heh.

    In any case, I wouldn't take it personally, but if you feel taken advantage of by not receiving reciprocal invitations, it wouldn't be unreasonable to stop extending invites, I don't think. Or maybe try doing something that involves slightly less work for you, like having a potluck, so you won't have to cook as much?
     

  3. uncle Will in In.

    uncle Will in In. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Try inviting them to things less intimadating. Have lunch at a resturant with them. Have them join you at anything in the community you might enjoy. Ask them to come in the afternoon for coffee. Many people don't want to do the full meal deal.
     
  4. tyusclan

    tyusclan Well-Known Member

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    I think part of it is the fact that people are so busy. Our culture has it's priorities out whack, and busy-ness is taking over. I also think part of the problem is that many of the people in our churches want to keep everyone sort of at arm's length. We can all get together for a couple of hours a week, smile and shake hands, but I don't want you to get too close, because then you might get to know me too well. You might start to see my faults, and I want to keep those out of sight.

    The whole purpose of a fellowship is to get to know each other, to love each other in spite of our faults and failings, and to help each other with and pray for each other for our failings. Many people just aren't willing to be that vulnerable.
     
  5. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

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    There's also just the logistics to think about. I couldn't invite a large family to a nice Sunday dinner...I don't have the space to seat that many people. I could, however, invite several large families to an outdoor barbeque. Perhaps folks think they should respond 'in kind', but can't. Try inviting people to something less formal, and perhaps reciprocation will be easier for them.

    Meg
     
  6. jill.costello

    jill.costello Well-Known Member

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    Ok, I'm going to butcher this without vowels, but what does "D'ahyolech Sani LechaBerach T'ahvohd- Goo Hay Col Ha'Toraht, Y'ohdocha- Feerucha hai'oo, Geel Gamoor... mean?


    דעלך סני לחברך לא תעביד- גו היא כל התורהת, ואידך- פירושה הוא, גיל גמור
     
  7. freegal

    freegal Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Being a family of DH, myself and 2 children, living in a small house, it was a bit intimidating for me to invite families that had 6 or 10 children over for a meal. Maybe you could start a monthly potluck meal at the church after Sunday services and get to know more people. Many churches do this. As an encouragement to those (like me) who were hesitant to invite larger families, wait till summer and have an outdoor barbeque. It is easier to accomodate a larger group outdoors. If they offer to bring a dish - accept!
     
  8. Hip_Shot_Hanna

    Hip_Shot_Hanna Well-Known Member

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    I honestly think that people are "too busy" these days. I mean that as a whole, most people I know seem to rush from one activity to another. I know how you feel because I went through all of that myself for many years.

    I might also think that perhaps when people do choose to socialize, that if they feel they don't have much in common with you they may choose someone else. It's nothing against you. (I also homeschooled my children and while we didn't live on a farm we did milk a cow or goats, have chickens, and raise our own calf and pig, plus have a veggie garden.)

    Perhaps Sunday is the only "Down Time" folks have, and the idea of going to the effort of cooking a meal for themselves and someone else, plus clean up is not what they want to do with those Sunday afternoon hours. Most people I know seem to eat out on Sunday afternoon.

    Those are some thoughts ... I can remember feeling so blue and lonely that I'd just sit and cry sometimes because I didn't have any relationships with anyone in my church, despite my efforts to call and have people over, etc. At one church, I could see there were cliques and that I was always on the outside looking in, though everyone was friendly enough while at church. I learned after 15 years there, that there was a "Supper Club" that many were part of.. and I'd never even HEARD of it, much less been invited to join in.

    Of course, I was also married at the time to a man that was controlling, overbearing, stingy, self interested.. well - let's just say that he wasn't very good company either (among other things)

    Now I am married to a man that enjoys my company and conversation, and maybe it's because I'm 51, but I no longer feel that need to be with other women so much. I don't feel lonely anymore, and that's nice. I DO enjoy other women's company - just don't feel sad and blue when it's not there.

    You have my heartfelt sympathy... I am not saying I feel "sorry" for you at all. Just that I really do know what you are feeling and I remember how lonely and painful that feels.

    BIG HUGS to you.. you are doing a wonderful thing being a SAHM and homeschooling your children.

    HSH
     
  9. sheepish

    sheepish Well-Known Member Supporter

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    5 children scares a lot of people. They just can't picture themselves adding that number to their table and their household, even for a few hours.

    Hospitality is not synonomous with entertaining. Entertaining requires reciprocity. Hospitality is given with only the thought of the needs of the guest.

    Find guests who need your hospitality and offer it to them. It may not be obvious who they are, but they will possibly be those who are in the poorest position to reciprocate. Even though they don't return your invitation, they will appreciate your gift to them.
     
  10. roadless

    roadless Well-Known Member Supporter

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    This is my thought also...a potluck at the church might help solve some of the getting together problems.
     
  11. organicfarmer

    organicfarmer Well-Known Member

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    Thank you for your responses. I am happy to have people over as we have more space than most. We do have friends from our old area who we visit with and we share making the meal. I know it must be difficult and overwhelming to have 7 people for dinner and it is not what we expect. I just seems that people simply don't want to get together and enjoy each other's company the same as when I was a child.
     
  12. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Silvia, here's another take on it. People might feel that being invited over after church is more informal, and that a reciprocal invitation is only necessary if you invite them,say, for dinner in the evening. Just a guess on my part. People do seem busier these days.


    Jennifer
     
  13. mrs.H

    mrs.H Romans 8:28

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    Organicfarmer, I don't have any sugestions.

    We are not on our homestead in TN yet. But your question no doubt solved a problem we would have had. I have no problems inviting people over to a BBQ. But the thought of haveing folks into my home for a sit down dinner scares the willy's out of me. My house is my haven!

    So I believe you have saved be from apearing anti-social to my future small town community. Thank you in advance!
     
  14. Sharon in NY

    Sharon in NY Well-Known Member

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    You know, I think the world is divided into hospitable folk and not so hospitable folk. Back when my husband and I only had one kid, we invited nearly everyone we met at our synagogue out for visits. And about 4 people ever reciprocated. We'd invite people again, and they'd come, and they still wouldn't reciprocate. I think there are a couple of things going on - one is that a lot of people aren't accustomed to hospitality - they find it overwhelming and scary and intimidating. Another is that many people just don't seem to know that they are supposed to reciprocate. Still another is that a lot of people in the world don't cook.

    You have a lot of kids (me too!), so you are particularly difficult guests. I would just accept that at least during this part of your life, you are going to be the host mostly. So keep inviting. Make it clear that you don't expect reciprocation (and then maybe people will be surprised) and just enjoy having guests. That's what we've done - I'd say 1 out of ever 4 people we invite ever invites us back. Maybe another 1/4 bring a gift or do something else to reciprocate. But for the rest, we enjoy their company and don't hold it against them.

    Sharon
     
  15. via media

    via media Tub-thumper

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    Another thing is that perhaps people were coming over out of curiousity (you're The New People).

    How big is the town? I've found in small towns that most people already have friends and family. They seem not to have much time for new people. In fact, we were The New People for seven years, until we moved away. Then the neighbors said, The New People are moving!

    Otherwise, it might just be too intimidating (expensive?) for them to have your whole family over. I like the idea of a potluck to make it more casual.

    /VM
     
  16. Tracy Rimmer

    Tracy Rimmer CF, Classroom & Books Mod Supporter

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    We've found the same thing, and I think it has nothing to do with intimidation, busy-ness, or anything else. I think it's that they've never been taught to do so. I actually had someone (the wife of one of DH's business associates -- who was old enough and worldly enough to know better) sit at my table while chowing down on a homemade Indian meal, tell me "I don't invite people for dinner. It's too much of a pain."

    Right. Last invite issued there.

    DH and I LOVE to entertain. I wish you lived closer -- I'd love to have your family by for a meal -- dinner, after church, whenever.
     
  17. Sharon in NY

    Sharon in NY Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious - why is the fact that your house is your haven a barrier to your having guests? I get the feeling that when people say "sit down dinner" they mean something way, way more formal than "you are invited to dinner and you get to sit down :) " Guests in our house get better food than potluck, but the preparation process is exactly the same as if it were just us - no french maids, no gong announcing dinner, no russian service (whatever that is) - just invite the guests, everyone hangs out talking, everyone eats and laughs and talks, then we clear, and chat for a while, good friends sometimes help with the dishes, everyone goes home and you clean up. Why is that scary?

    I think those magazines that show people in little black dresses passing smoked salmon roulades just scare people out of having guests. They think "I could never do that" - but the fact is, it is easier, in many ways, to have dinner guests than a barbecue, because you don't have to haul everything outside.

    I'm not criticizing your choices, I just wonder what it is that people are so intimidated by?

    Sharon
     
  18. Pony

    Pony Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree! Somehow, people have not been taught that it is good manners to reciprocate. It doesn't have to be as lavish a spread or an identical meal, but reciprocity is what makes the social world go 'round.

    And it certainly is not a matter of busy-ness. If people are not too busy to accept an invitation, then they are certainly not too busy to reciprocate. Hmph! :nono:

    :doh: Oh, dear! How absolutely.... Oh, dear... That's just SO ungracious!! That person would never put her feet under my board again, either!

    Pony!
     
  19. mama2littleman

    mama2littleman El Paso

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    I have to agree that adding 7 people (you, your DH, and 5 kids) is intimidating for most people. Especially if they didn't grow up in a household that routinely had large numbers of people over for dinner.

    You have already been given some great suggestions, so I won't repeat them. I just wanted to point out that it's not necessarily your company that people don't want, but the logistical issues that are keeping them away.

    Nikki
     
  20. MorrisonCorner

    MorrisonCorner Mansfield, VT for 200 yrs

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    I'm going to side with the "many kids... not so many chairs" group. I own (I just counted!) exactly 8 chairs. Six for the table (which seats 6), a desk chair, and a spare in the guest room which is a fragile antique unsuitable for sitting on. I can't have your family over for dinner unless some of you are willing to sit on the floor... with my golden retrievers helping you polish off the plate!

    That said... there are other ways to reciprocate when you don't have chairs. The BBQ was mentioned. I'm partial to a picnic too as kid-dribbles and spills don't matter outside, and over my carpets they might matter. I'm also rather fond of the "let's go for pizza" and grabbing the check routine.

    The woman who said "I never have people over.." may have meant, like a friend of mine who also "never has people over" that instead they host them at a restaurant or other event. It may not have come out quite as she intended. We have a friend who buys out a restaurant twice a year and hosts a huge (and frightfully expensive) bash... which is his way of returning the year's hospitality. These bi-annual events have become something to really look forward to and he might rightly say while sitting at someone's table "I never invite people over..." but you'd be glad to come to the summer party when the invite arrived.

    The issue of "large family with kids" is that people who don't have seating (or aren't quite sure how to handle lots of kids when they have no toys and aren't kid proof) is that we are aware of how much sitters cost. So while we might think "we should invite that couple..." the next thought is "but it would cost them a fortune..." and we're not sure how to extend an invite for an adult evening without offending.