A Place to Gather

When we first got married, I thought I had a “vision” for our home.

I had a subscription to HGTV magazine, was an avid pinner all throughout college and frequented many blogs about home decor, craft projects and furniture makeovers. It was all very aspirational.

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So when we rented our first house, likely styled in 1972, I was a little peeved at my rusting stove, the carpeted bathroom, and the lamp in the corner that looked like it belonged in Narnia.

Despite my home being less than magazine-worthy, I discovered I loved having people over. Parents came for dinner. A sister came to play with the dog. Friends came from out of town to sleep on the floor and hang out with us.

Around the same time, I listened to a podcast with a couple writers who were talking about their homes. One expressed her desire to have a home that is a natural gathering place. Always welcoming. Always available. A place that provided respite for people who just wanted a break.

That podcast gave me some clarity. I realized that regardless of what my home looked like, I could determine how people who entered it would be treated.

Since then, I’ve experienced a cheesy amount of  joy in hosting. You know how some things in life just fill you up? For me, this is one of them.

One of Thom’s friends lives a few hours away. He came to visit a few weeks ago, and a home-cooked meal and a futon with clean sheets seemed to give him a sense of peace…a piece of home.

The very next night, we went to dinner with my brother, his wife, and a couple cousins. Afterwards, they came to our house to eat dessert and play games. We sat on the floor and played Yahtzee, watched basketball and laughed much as everyone confessed quirks they discovered about their spouse upon getting married.

And last weekend, we hosted eight middle-school girls from the youth group. They decorated cupcakes, made a mess of my kitchen and belted out every song lyric from Frozen. Afterwards, one of the youth boys stayed an hour or so – processing what it will be like to go to college next year and telling us his big dreams of inventing electric jets.

This is such good stuff. It’s not perfect, but it’s good.

Cooking dinner or dessert, putting sheets on a spare bed and letting people sit on your couch are small things. Sometimes we turn them into stressful things when we think about how to perfectly time the meal, or how the guest bedroom is a dumping ground for everything that doesn’t have a place and is in no way, shape or form fit for company (just me?). Fight against those stressors.

We don’t vacuum as often we as should, my kitchen sink disposal sometimes smells bad and we still only have two patio chairs that suffice as dining chairs right now.

But we welcome people anyway. That’s my new vision.

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4 thoughts on “A Place to Gather

  1. That was so “me” 35 years ago! My couch was ratty, as was the carpet, and the dog sometimes smelled. But I was determined to make my house a place where friends felt at ease and loved, so that maybe they wouldn’t even notice the other stuff. Not sure if it worked or not, but I have some great memories from the years in that house!

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