Last year, I shared this post of AWESOME tips from my friend C on how to host & entertain well throughout this busy season. There are practical tips, as well as a general mentality on how to host people so that they really feel cared for; entertaining not for the sake of looking good or putting on a show, but serving the ones we love.
One of the tips she shared was that long ago she bought a set of plain, white dishes that they use for hosting events. Great idea, but many of the comments afterwards referred to the extra space it would take, the extra stuff to manage, etc.
Minimalism is the new black (perhaps a cultural response to our over-stuffed lives), so the concept of hoarding extra, occasional items may be frowned upon. It’s very un-KonMarie.
May I suggest an age-old solution that we learned way back in kindergarten?
It seems like something we should be good at by now. We want kids to learn to share, and in fact we DELIGHT to see children working together or trading toys back & forth. There’s always plenty to go around, after all, and it would seem strange for children to sit each in their own corners of a playroom with their own set of the same toys.
However, when it’s me, I am MORE THAN HAPPY for that to be my reality!
I don’t want to go and borrow my neighbor’s ladder “all the time” (or is it the two times per year that I use one?). I’ve got to go over to there, when they are home, arrange for a timeline (how long will it take me?! I don’t know! The pressure!)
And shouldn’t I just own my own ladder? I’m sure that future issues will arise that will require a ladder; it seems like something that is a mark of being a responsible, grown-up homeowner: ladder ownership.
Sharing possessions, as adults, feels so… inconvenient. It feels dependent. And independence & convenience are two qualities that we value extremely highly in our culture.
I’ve resisted borrowing goods because it feels like I’m too cheap or too lazy to get my own; I’ve bought seldom-used tools or kitchen gadgets simply because I’m embarrassed by how it looks if I “keep” asking someone else.
A turning point came for me when I met a neighbor of ours with a backyard pool. He saw us in the sprinkler one day and said, “I have a pool! Come use it whenever I am home!” It took me about 2 years to take him up on the offer, but once I did, it was fantastic! My fear of feeling imposing (“Oh, we should just pay to use the community public pool”) was slowly overcome by 1) our neighbor’s easygoing generosity 2) the convenience — the pool is 6 houses away 3) the free-ness of it all: it only cost me making them one pie! (and, in fact, I often went home with lettuce & other spoils of their garden!)
Pride can be such an unhelpful companion, and I realized that by hiding behind my pride & fear, I was missing out on so much:
I can admit, at this point I may have swung to the far opposite end of the spectrum, as I’ve now borrowed everything from rakes to limes to coffee urns from my neighbors & family! But, though I joke about being the needy neighbor, I think that more than anything, it bonds us. It certainly provides me with more excuses to pop by and check in with how they are doing, or what is happening in their lives.
The most embarrassing thing I've ever borrowed is an artificial Christmas tree (to use as a prop for photographs of our holiday kantha quilts). Have you ever borrowed or lent something completely strange or surprising? Share in the comments below!
The Enneagram is super popular right now as a typology of nine interconnected personality types. I am familiar with the Enneagram and while it hasn’t been a particularly impactful tool for me personally, I value the depth of the insight and the common language it provides.
Similarly, Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework provides definition and a vernacular to what is already present in ourselves. For me, this one has resounded like a deafening gong in my ears & in my life!
Over the last year or so, I've made a conscious priority to read books written by — or written from the perspective of — people different than me. As a white, rich person (and I have a job, a bachelor's degree, a house, 2 cars, and 3 computers, so that sounds pretty rich to me; maybe not in the 1%, but high enough), I have a pretty limited perspective. Also, our culture is essentially designed for me to thrive, so it's easy to take that all for granted.
Books, both non-fiction and creative stories, have a way of landing you right in the viewpoint of an other, and I am so grateful for that gift; it's one of the best things about reading.
Conversations about money can be awkward, but having uncomfortable talks, at age appropriate times, will set up our children's essential, lifelong skill in handling money well. Allowance is a key tool to teaching these money management skills.
Money, along with politics and religion, is often considered impolite conversation to have outside of yourself & maybe (hopefully?) your spouse. How much do we spend on groceries, gas bill, or date nights? Is this car payment normal? We are often afraid, or at least reluctant, to compare any of these details… R. Paul Stevens said the proverbial fig leaf from the Garden of Eden has moved from our naked bodies to our bank accounts!
Add kids into these conversations, and there is an additional layer of hesitancy: kids can be notorious loud-mouths!