Potlucks, Paranoia, & Pumpkin Pie (part 1)

I did attempt to end the last blog post on an “up” note, but as I look back on it, it was kind of a downer of a post in general. So let’s have a chat about the potluck, that “forced” hospitality as I called it, which brought on the whole bowl-crashing, bread-destroying chaos on Saturday night.

Sunday morning, as it turns out, was much better. J got up early and made an “easy no-knead what bread” recipe, which got rave reviews, and since it only rises once, we even made it to Sunday school. After church, we ended up with about two dozen people here for a potluck.

Here’s the background about the potluck situation: The goal eventually is to have sort of an open-house/standing-invitation potluck every week after church, but for now, once a month is about all we can manage. The more we think about community and consumption and food habits and fellowship and Sabbath-keeping (whew!), it seems that these all need to come together, somehow, in a concrete way. Eating out at a restaurant after church, as seems to be the tradition in both of the places we’ve lived since being “real” adults, somehow just doesn’t work for us. It feels wrong, and I tend to go with my gut instinct on these matters.

So, our solution: low-key potlucks.

So, my problem: I am not low-key.

You see, most days I love my house, and the grit and the grime and its unfinished-ness doesn’t bother me. But when my brain realizes that we’re about to have people wandering through, something in me seizes up. (And it doesn’t matter if it’s a horde of college students coming over for theology reading group on Thursday nights or if it’s my parents or my friends or what.) It kind of bothers me that one wall in our living room still has the cracked mud and plaster showing; that our mantle for the fireplace is still in the basement, not stripped of paint; that the baseboards are unpainted, chipped, and in many places, just missing; that we still have old-lady curtains hanging in the living room; that our leather furniture is flaking off…clearly not real leather. And that doesn’t even begin to get to the bottom of my issues–dirty sinks and toilets, sticky 50s linoleum, crumbs on the counter top, laundry piled in front of the washing machine… oh my goodness, I have such issues.

It is certainly paranoia. Shouldn’t hospitality be more than a clean house? At the very least, it shouldn’t involve pretending to have it all perfect and together. That’s not being very honest–and dishonesty and hospitality can’t go hand in hand. Or maybe I’m crazy. (Okay, we’ve established that already.)

Some of our closest friends in Texas always had an open home, always invited people into their apartment, no matter if there were dishes in the sink, books all over the coffee table, kids’ toys on the floor, dust bunnies sneaking around, cats crawling all over you.

I always wanted to be like that.


And maybe someday I will be. But let me tell you, when I am freaking out because guests are about to arrive and J gently reminds me, “Hospitality is not about having a clean  house,” well, most of the time, I am not happy to hear it. In fact, most of the time it makes me want to scream.

But I’m growing. Really.

[Potluck part 2 coming very soon.]