I grew up in the beautiful bluegrass state of Kentucky. Rolling hills, majestic horse farms, and Southern cooking are in my bones.
I was shaped by this culture of hospitality and generosity. Front porch sittin’ and dropping in at friends’ homes are tenets of my childhood.
The Southern way is about embodying charm and manners but most of all a welcoming love – to everyone. Thank you, Kentucky, for paving this path for me.
Charming. Warm. Welcome.
Above all, this is what friendship is.
A Mother’s Example
My momma not only taught me the value of always being hospitable, she modeled it. If someone else needed something that we had, we gave. She was always cooking dinners for families that just had babies or surgery or lost loved ones. She gifted thousands of hours teaching others her joy of dance. She gifted her time, her skills, and her love with reckless abandon.
One of my favorite stories to describe the extra mile this woman goes to ensure people around her are comfortable and welcomed was eight or so years ago. She lived with us at the time, and several of my girlfriends came over for cocktails and board games. We were all sitting around my living room and one gal asked me if I had any Kleenex. My mother LEAPT into action, scooped up the entire box of Kleenex and delivered them, on bended knee, to my friend’s lap as if she was proposing to her! We all burst into laughter, and that friend still tells this story. My momma embodies hospitality. She embodies love. If you are lucky enough to know her, you are better for it.
So, what is hospitality?
The concept of hospitality is very simple. It’s opening up your heart and mind to be welcoming. Period. Officially, the dictionary defines hospitality as,
the friendly and generous reception and entertainment of guests, visitors, or strangers.“
Think back to the last time you felt a truly friendly and generous reception. How warm did you feel? How much did you know you mattered in that space? The fact that someone else was willing to effectively roll out a red carpet – for you. Bliss!
The world needs a heck of a lot more hospitality right now.
Can we extend the kindness movement to a red carpet movement? I dream that everyone gets to feel that love of someone rolling out the red carpet for them.
And to receive it, we must EMBODY it. Below are some of my favorite ways to intentionally be the best friend I can.
My favorite ways to show big love, aka hospitality:
- Send snail mail letters/cards to express your heart. How often do you open your mailbox to a handwritten card, just because. Never? Yeah, pretty much me neither. But how big of a smile does that put on your face? I have a dear friend that sends me cards in the mail about once a month. They are empowering reminders that she sees me and that she understands I am juggling a lot of balls. She wants to remind me that I am a QUEEN. And good gravy, they all go on my bulletin board and I grin so big when I see her name on the return address. LOVE.
- Pull up a chair. Sometimes, all we need is someone to actually listen to us. Intentionally ask questions, then actively listen. We don’t always need someone to solutionize or activate. Just listen. Care. Seek to understand me and let me know I’m not alone. We have walked through some tragedy in our children’s lives. After one incident, my circle of girls came and gathered around me and just let me cry and spill. No one was trying to fix it – it couldn’t be fixed right then. But I knew I had support and many ears to listen.
- Invite a someone for dinner – greet them with a hug and a cocktail. No matter what burned, or smelled funny, they are GRATEFUL to not be cooking. Also, they are joining you for the community, not for the perfectly plated and cooked meal. Be sure you are enjoying yourself to truly share hospitality. They feel it, and their energy will emulate you.
- Pay it forward. But bigger. Hopefully, we have all had someone unexpectedly grab our Starbucks tab in the drive-thru, but can you think bigger? Do you have some extra cash that you could bless someone in need with? Could you offer some free babysitting to a friend who needs a break? What needs can you identify in your friends’ lives that you might be able to handle for them? Think Olivia Pope from the hit show Scandal: “It’s handled!” How refreshing!
- Open your mind. Hospitality is being open and welcoming. To all. Do you need to do some anti-racist work to improve your perspective and understanding of race issues? What other topics could you better inform yourself on?
- Be your friend’s and family’s biggest fan. Are you in the habit of complaining about the people in your life that you love the most? No judgment here; we all fall into this cycle. But stop. Whether your partner or family hears you is irrelevant; your words still matter. Speak highly of your community. They will feel that love. Give it freely. One way I like to do this is to promote my friends’ businesses like they are my own. I will advocate for them as though it impacts my pocketbook. It never will, but I want to impact their world. They know I care, and more than that, they know I mean it when I say, “I’ve got your back.”
Let’s Roll Out the Red Carpet
So, are you inspired! Who can you roll out the red carpet for this week? Share that love; it will come back to you in spades! How do you inject the concept of hospitality into your everyday life? Share a comment below and let’s connect!