I’ve always been surrounded by good food. In our house growing up, my mom cooked every evening during the school week. Grecian potatoes, homemade spaghetti, dolmades, and fried chicken sat in the middle of our kitchen table.
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My mom prepared these meals for us so that the six of us could huddle in together every evening—sharing the stories of our day.
My mom didn’t COOK because she felt like she had to—she wanted to. It was important to her. We had guests over for dinner regularly, too. To Greeks, and other ethnicities I’m sure, food is simply about bringing people together.
Yes, the enjoyment of the delicious meals is an added perk, but it’s more about the love shared with those circling around the table. As a kid, I watched the serving spoons shovel into the casseroles and spread food onto our plates. We inhaled the meal and conversation.
The guests sitting around the table, they never cared about what our home looked like—only what it felt like.
Yes, with four ROWDY KIDS, our home was rarely neat and tidy. Barbies, Legos, books, and video games were often strewn across the family room. Our mom would order us to straighten up, but never focused too much on what our house looked like because it felt like not like a house, but a home.
My parents made our guests feel welcome. And the guests, as soon as they walked in, they didn’t care about what toy was thrown on the carpet. Once they sat down and took a sip of wine, they immediately felt welcome—my mom’s only goal. I wish I would have remembered that when my kids were born.
See, when my own children were small, I still felt the need to keep a tidy home. I’d constantly scurry around the family room to toss Little People back into the toy bins, vacuum up the crushed Goldfish smashed into the carpet, and dust the coffee table.
I never sat in the ease of my corner of the couch and let the chaos of little kids just be. I should have enjoyed THE UPHEAVAL OF MY HOUSE because one day I know that it will be gone.
I let the stress of having a neat house get in the way of enjoying my friends once they got there, too.
I’d bustle around getting our friends and family drinks and food, but I never stopped with just that. I found myself still picking toys up—not stopping to indulge in the presence of my friends and family. As the kids played around us, I’d throw toys into the bins.
What a lunatic I acted like. And our guests? I’m sure they didn’t feel all that welcome in our home as they watched a host who couldn’t relax. What a wasted opportunity.
Thankfully, I woke up and remembered my own childhood home.
So, today my house stands much dirtier. Right now, I am staring at hundreds of tiny fingerprints on the sliding door. Accumulating dust rests on the coffee table where my water sits. And immersed in the carpet are My Little Ponies and an unfinished puzzle.
We’re having FRIENDS over for dinner later on this evening and I’m sure that I won’t get to cleaning up any of that. Instead, I’ll focus on the homemade enchiladas I’m preparing and making my friends feel welcome and loved in our home.
The kids will run around squealing and the parents will drink a few beers. We’ll share stories and laugh. Yup, just like my mother did when we were growing up, we’ll never wish that dust underneath our beer bottles wasn’t there. Instead, we’ll savor the food, and most importantly, the company eating it.