Monday, August 1, 2016

In praise of 'scruffy hospitality'

From Mother Nature Network:  http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/in-priase-scruffy-hospitality

Your home doesn't need to be picture-perfect to invite people over.

Robin Shreeves June 7, 2016

My friends Dana and John perfectly practice what the Rev. Jack King referred to as "scruffy hospitality." Their kitchen is small. The wood cabinets are dark and a few decades old. Spices and jars for sugar and flour line the countertops because there's nowhere else to put them. A tall, round table shoved in a corner has mismatched bar stools crammed around it.

The sliding glass doors in the kitchen lead to a back deck with a well-used chiminea, an outdoor table and a large variety of chairs and cushions, many of them bought at yard sales. We circle the chairs around the chiminea on weekend nights during all four seasons, whenever Dana and John put out a simple call out through text or Facebook that says, "Fire tonight!"

There will always be food, but like the bar stools and deck chairs, the food is mismatched. Our hosts provide some food. John may have the urge to make jalapeño poppers or Dana may put together some version of salsa with whatever's fresh from the garden, but there's not a formally prepared meal. 

Everyone just brings something. It's perfectly acceptable, encouraged even, to bring odds and ends of foods that need to get used up. I often bring wedges of cheese that have already been cut into or half a baguette to slice up and toast to dip in hummus. Everyone brings a little something to drink. And it's a glorious feast.

This kitchen and deck won't be featured in in Better Homes and Gardens anytime soon, but maybe they should be. They are two of the most hospitable spaces I know. By opening up their home as-is, Dana and John are the most gracious hosts I know. I almost wrote "by opening up their home with its imperfections," but that's not accurate. Their home is perfect — just like it is.


What is scruffy hospitality?

On his blog, Father Jack defines scruffy hospitality this way:
Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have. Scruffy hospitality means you’re more interested in quality conversation than the impression your home or lawn makes. If we only share meals with friends when we’re excellent, we aren’t truly sharing life together.
He encourages people not to allow an unfinished to-do list to stop us from opening our homes to friends and family.

I agree, but here's the problem. It's hard to let go of the belief that our homes need to be picture-perfect — or maybe I should say "Pinterest-perfect" — before we can welcome guests. But the idea that we must make our home look un-lived in before having people over stops so many of us from sharing life together.

Continue reading at:  http://www.mnn.com/your-home/at-home/blogs/in-priase-scruffy-hospitality

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