Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Keep It Simple

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?  A series exploring what it means to create community in Deer Park, or wherever you are.

On that Sunday afternoon, two elderly couples from our church joined us for lunch. My wife and I were in our early twenties, no kids yet, and had only been married a few months, while our guests were in their 70’s and 80’s and had already experienced much of what life has to offer. We wanted to demonstrate love and help build community, so we invited them over.

This was the day we learned a valuable lesson and the dessert saved us all. What lesson? We learned that simple is better.

You see, my wife is an excellent cook, and being young and somewhat intimidated by hosting our elders, we thought we needed to make our best impression, so we pulled out all the stops. She made bread bowls. Yes, delicious homemade bread bowls to be filled with homemade soup. We put our best table cloth on the table, set it with our wedding china, and probably even had candles out.  As we tried to make conversation around the luncheon table, we experienced our first of two memorable moments.

We noticed that our guests seemed unused to the idea of the bread bowls; the fact became obvious when they asked us for knives to be passed around. They then proceeded to cut the bread bowls apart with fork and knife while their soup leaked everywhere, all while making comments about how hard the bottom crust was to cut (which was of course on purpose!)

They then proceeded to cut the bread bowls apart with fork and knife while their soup leaked everywhere.

The second moment came when dessert was being passed around and one of the gentlemen, now long dead, said, “Finally, something I actually like!” We weren’t offended so much as trying not to burst out laughing. Evidently, our simple apple cake had succeeded in winning his heart, unlike the strangely tough bread bowls.

After saying goodbye, we laughed as we talked through the experience and realized that we had not truly considered what would be best for our guests. Most of our preparations had actually been for our benefit. We had wanted to impress, and had made the lunch more complicated than necessary, through both our decorations and menu.

I hope you’ll join me in extending the hospitality of your home to others. Just remember to learn from my mistakes and keep it simple. And yet it’s better to create community by sharing a meal no one likes than to perpetuate your preferences in loneliness. Let’s be neighbors together.

Join the conversation by sharing your neighboring stories or asking your hospitality questions at FB.me/DeerParkGazette with #neighboring. Won’t you be my neighbor?

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