Friday, July 14, 2006

Visits: Another Part of Home Life

I just had a visit from a wonderful lady who brought me brunch, which she cooked in my kitchen.

She brought with her two of her three grown daughters, who were educated at home, age 25 and 18. These two girls were extraordinarily enthusiastic about life. I took them on a walking tour of the garden and the land about us, and they were enchanted with it.

I asked them if they knew anything about the rhubarb plant and they showed me how to pick it, weed it, and take care of it, as well as offerred suggestions on how to make from it sauces, jams, and muffins. "I will warn you, though," said one of them. "that if you ever decide to chew on raw rhubarb, everything will taste like rhubarb for a long time." She told me she had done so and even when her mother made chocolate cake, it tasted like rhubarb.

During breakfast they told me about things they were doing at home. One of them wanted me to come and see a room she had rearranged and cleaned. The mother commented that they as a family rarely get any encouragement for the life that they lead. We shared ideas about living in small homes, trying to come up with plans to make things fit in small rooms.

The daughters are earning money by being able to care for elderly people in their own homes. People usually donate what they can afford, to have these girls come, cook a meal, clean house, help them with a letter, read aloud, or just keep them company. The eldest daughter, who was looking after her grandmother, also raises sheep, and has learned to use the wool to make a fabric called "felt," which she dyes with vivid colors. She does something called "felting," whereby she makes this fabric while forming it into something such as a tea cozy or purse or hat or mittens.

Brunch consisted of English muffins with sliced tomato and cooked asparagus spears, covered in a wonderful cheese sauce, fresh baked scones with raspberry jam (home made) and whipped cream. Tea of different kinds consisted of: Yorkshire Gold, Orange Spice, and Camomile, served in individual pots.

While their mother and I visited, one of them played tunes reminiscent of the Edwardian era. These girls could easily converse about such writers as Adam Clarke or Jane Austen, and discuss their values at length. It was most refreshing to hear such talk, in a society that is full of idle foolishness.

Although they had just been out on a farm picking the fresh crop of raspberries, they wore skirts and blouses, and floppy hats to shade their faces in the harsh morning sun.

One of the interesting things that these girls revealed that they were doing as a hobby, was called "letterboxing." Has anyone heard of it? They showed me their little book that people had signed with their stamps and names. This occupation takes them to many beautiful parks and public places like rose gardens, and lighthouses.


TheNormalMiddle said...

Yes! We have just started letterboxing. It is so fun. I blogged about it earlier in the week.

I think it is wonderful the way you described your company. I would love to have a kindred spirit such as that to visit with. Most people just think we're odd......

Thank you again Lady Lydia for your beautiful reminder of keeping our girls at home.

Amy said...

That sounds like a heavenly visit, and you describe it all so beautifully! I just heard letterboxing mentioned for the first time last week. It sounds similar to geocaching, only you don't need to own a GPS to paricipate. I think it would be a lot of fun!

Anonymous said...

Lady Lydia, that sounds like such a wonderful visit! You had visitors who knew how to be gracious, engaging and social. How fortunate those girls have been to be raised so well, so that they know how to behave in a social situation - and so that they actually have something to talk about other than what some celebrity has done to get himself into the papers that day.

So many people have absolutely no idea how to be guests, just as so many people have no idea how to be hospitable. Also, many people don't understand that a successful event comes from both the hostess and the guests contributing, and they don't live up to the guests' end of the deal!

I must admit that I haven't offered hospitality since the time I prepared a lavish dinner party, complete with invitations which were all accepted by my guests well in advance of the date of the party. On the night of the party, not one single guest who had responded and said they were coming, turned up. I finally telephoned them, one by one, and was given many different excuses, ranging from "I figured so many people would be there that we would never be missed" to "well, you don't have MTV, and my husband said he'd never get through the night without it" to "we got hungry and went ahead and ate, so there was no point in coming to your place".

Comparing my experience to parties of my parents', who often had people to dinner, where they would socialize beforehand, then have dinner and linger afterward socializing and having a wonderful time enjoying each other's company - well, I just lost any desire to try to have people over after that.

I think that your posting here might just inspire me to try again - and this time, to be more careful of who I choose to have on my guest list!

Lydia said...

That very thing has happened to me. I was not prepared for the rejection and rudeness. My hospitality efforts, like yours, were based on my parents example and experience. I just naturally thought that my hospitality would bring the same joyous results as my parents' hospitality did when Iived at home. I certainly wasn't prepared for the strange responses I got.

Maybe people are just too spoiled for their own good.

We should invite only one person and make them feel fortunate they got tea and a dry biscuit.

Maybe the restaurants are the problem. You can go so many places and have so many choices that it is spoiling it for real hospitality.

Mrs. Kay said...

Can I first say that I absolutely love this blog!

My parents entertained very infrequently, but when they did, the guests were other family and very close friends. Enthusiasm was the word of the day each time. They seldom had people over whom they didn't know well. So perhaps familiarity is something that we're missing these days - it's much harder to blow off your good friends and family, unless you have a good excuse, since you'll be seeing them again soon.

I'm not sure about restaurants spoiling others' ability to be good guests. Maybe it's that entertaining has become a casual affair, with such a large guest list in many cases. People have fewer good friends and consequently don't treat their casual friends as carefuly as they might a good friend.

Also - I find often that women don't want to be seen as having gone to too much effort. I went to a tea party baby shower recently and the hostess apologized for having brought out her grandmother's beautiful china. Another guest, who is a good cook, made it known that she bought nearly all of the food. These are all working women, downplaying their domestic skills for what reason I do not know.

Lydia said...

At a recent gathering, my daughter got out her tea cups to serve drinks. One woman asked her, "You don't have to give me one of those fancy tea cups. I'll dring out of something plain. I might break the cup." These are not fancy tea cups, nor are they antiques. She wants to use them, rather than let them sit and take up space in the house.

Anonymous said...

What wonderful wives and mothers these dear girls will make one day. Somewhere God is preparing young men likewise for them. I hope that the girls have found friends with similiar upbringing to share with. I want to say thankyou also to their parents for their tender guidance and strength to raise such young women of promise in these hard times.
And shame on those people who thought nothing of invitations but not showing up! How sad we have lost our integrety.

Anonymous said...

Homey touches like cloth napkins and pretty tea cups add such a warmth to everyday life...if we cannot put out the "special" things for our family to see and use what memories of them will they ever have. They will not even know they existed...or worse were only put out for company like our families not as "special". I too have company that feels uncomfortable with these nice things but they are just "things" not ment to be only admired but used...with love.

Lydia said...

Yes, whatever happened to shame? There seems to be more support for shame than for uprightness.

Anonymous said...

I can really relate to most of the previous comments. I am relieved that other people have disheartening hospitality experiences as I thought it was just me.

I invite people over and prepare something nice and all they will have is a glass of water and my invitations are never reciprocated. I would love to be invited out. Even family members have problem with hospitality. Despite numerous invitations my brother and his wife have only visited once in 10 years (they live 2.5 hours away). I have raised this with him in case it was me but he says never has any time.

I think people are always looking for better options which is why they don't fully commit to an engagement or they cancel when something better comes along.

I would give anything to have a visiting experience like yours.

theups said...

LOVELY post!! Oh, how I wish that I had been with you all!! The only thing that would have made this post more beautiful would be pictures of these young ladies and their Titus 2 mother.

Thank you for letting us share in your blessing!!

Mrs. U

Lydia said...

I assure you I've had my share of horror-guests. One couple didn't like the food so they asked for something else. Another person came but said she was on a diet and didn't eat anything at all. Still another wanted to know why in the world I was "doing this!" I went into hospitality quite trustingly, thinking I would get the same happy results as my own parents did, but it sure didn't turn out that way. I saw a change in people's responses in the 60's. The elderly remained quite loyal to good manners but the 60's kids coming out of college had a disdainful disregard for the home and the hostess. They became adults and general conduct was watered down in the next generation. What the older generation tolerates, the next generation embraces.

DaisyChain said...

Your visit sounds just lovely!

I, too, have noticed that hospitality really seems to be lacking in today's world. People do not seem to take fellowship and friendship very seriously and even when you can manage to get an invitation out so somebody, many times your tea or dinner is cancelled and not seen as a big deal to the invited party. Sometimes the world can really seem like a lonely place due to many of society's lax attitudes.

I really hope to meet some other Christian ladies to share tea with or an afternoon chat with in the near future! :-)

Lydia said...

Too true. Even in churches, with all the activity and fellowship, there is loneliness. I think church potlucks have replaced real hospitality. It isnt' the same thing, at all...doesn't have the same feeling.

Tracy said...

Lady Lydia, I loved this post! It sounds like a lovely visit. I don't know anyone who practices hospitality like this. Thank you for sharing your lovely life with us. :)

Lydia said...

It was nice not to have the awkwardness of young ladies pouting or giving the dark, silent treatment, sitting away from the group, playing with their cell phones, and mulling over their own problems. These girls were acting normal and it made the adults feel normal, too.

Mrs. Melody said...

What a wonderful visit. I would love to have my daughter such an accomplished young lady.

The picture is a refreshing sight. Makes me wish I could visit tha family and enjoy their company. It would be nice to see those pictures instead of the latest Hollywood star on a poster. Thank you for sharing your wisdom.

Be blessed,

Anonymous said...

This is such a refreshing place to visit, I like this blog alot. Thank you for creating it.
Something similar happened to me a few years ago. I hosted a dinner party.
Out of the fifteen invites, I got only two replies, but 8 showed up. One guest commented on our home when he walked into the entryway,"well, maybe if you become a great housekeeper, your husband will afford you something better, like a REAL home"! We live in a mobile home. Ouch! Can I say devastated?
Another lady who entered the kitchen looked up and said,":Your ceiliings are so LOW !! In a deragatory manner, then she proceeded to tell me how much she loves her Cathredral ceiling kitchen. Later she ended up loosing her home and her marriage.

After cooking and baking a seven course meal, only two people commented on the food, and nobody said thank you for anything, they all just left. Left me with a desire to look for greener pastures elseware.

Eliza Jane

Lydia said...

There is a scripture in the gospels that talk about the people that don't come to your banquet. Jesus said that if they don't come, then go out into the highways and byways and get someone else!!!

Anonymous said...

This makes me sad and glad…
How wonderful to see these young ladies enjoying themselves and being interested and interesting. They brought sweetness with them and what a joy. They know how to have a polite good time….
I really came to an understanding of “good company” when I read one of Jane Austen’s books and a statement was made about a young lady “being agreeable” and they wanted her to be a part of their circle, and I believe that is the basis of being a good guest with a polite and gracious host/hostess. I so love when I have company and they just get involved and show they are happy to be there.
Very few people are able to enjoy or give hospitality… I sadly feel it is the sign of the times, many find wholesome entertainment boring, and I feel it is because they are caught in a web of lust and excitement, the majority of lives are filled with TV which has so many enticements from music, movies to sporting events. A lot of it is sexual in nature…. once exposed to this type of stimulation it is difficult to break away… and enjoy simple pleasures.
I find that most people in church know how to have fun and respect pureness.
Awhile ago on this sight it was mentioned to open up our homes for hospitality. I so desire to do that… I know there must be people in the byways and highways!!

Erin said...

The problem I've run into is just that nobody seems to have much time. In order to arrange any type of get-together, we have to start planning weeks and months ahead. I'm not sure how to overcome this obstacle!

Also, I am you have any advice for a childless couple entertaining couples with young children? My husband and I don't have any children yet, so our home is not really set up for them. We know some couples with children that we would like to invite over, but I'm afraid that I don't have an environment to offer that would be safe and interesting for children. Since you seem (to me, anyway!:o) to be such a role model in the area of gracious hospitality, I would love your input on this!

Anonymous said...

this blog soooo warms my heart..!!! I have 2 daughters and would love to teach them the joys of tea parties and conversation. Any suggestions on where to start or how to train them in this?