Choosing to Welcome

In college, I was lucky to have a high metabolism and lived in highly walkable Paris. My dinners mostly consisted of soup, half a baguette, and half a wheel of camembert. While this was tasty and decidedly Parisian (in my mind), I did always look forward to “real” meals.

My friends and I would host dinner parties for each other, but one of my most memorable was given by a young couple at our church. They had two children and were settled in Paris – seemingly light years ahead of my own life experience. They invited some young marrieds, poor college students, single expats and we gathered around their cozy table for a traditional full-coursed meal.

What struck me most about this couple was not the fact that they filled their home with people they didn’t really know, but how they welcomed us all in. I got the times mixed up and showed up an hour early, which I didn’t realize until the other guests arrived. Rather than feeling uncomfortable, the wife poured champagne, curled up on the sofa, and chatted until it was actually time for dinner. During the meal, the husband kept our glasses filled without us knowing and at one point, I looked over to see a naked child out of bed, whispering to his mom, while she kept the conversation going without missing a beat.

Later, I was talking with a friend about how naturally hosting seemed to come to this couple – it seemed so effortless and graceful! He pointed out that they had a lot of practice. By opening their home, they gave themselves opportunity to practice the art of making others feel welcome.

It’s an example I’ve carried with me, years later, and one I hope to achieve: Someone who makes others feel welcome without effort.

Do you have a memorable experience of hospitality? How have others made you feel welcome?

Linked with Kate Motaung’s Five Minute Friday, a time to write without editing.

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9 thoughts on “Choosing to Welcome

  1. Thanks for sharing your story. I recently went back to work at our local library. This is the first position that I have ever truly felt welcomed. It has been a great environment. I have learned so much.

  2. I loved this, Annie. The more we practice welcoming others, the more effortless it becomes. What a great thing to remember in a world where most people stay to themselves. I bet you’re an amazing hostess!

  3. What an awesome memory! I also have some memories of couples at church, who would open their homes to anyone and everyone. My husband and I strive to have such a home, and we regularly host CouchSurfers and travelers and the like. Now that we have a little one, our rate of hosting strangers has slowed somewhat, but we hope to relaunch our open house with hosting foreign exchange students and church missionaries and such. Thanks for sharing such a fun post! ❤ – http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com

    1. That’s so cool that you guys open your home to couch surfers. We’ve talked about having a foreign exchange student, but probably when our kids are in school…

  4. I have been on the receiving end of such hospitality as well, when I worked abroad with the Peace Corps. I remember my first Christmas in South Africa, I was staying at a backpackers with 2 other volunteers, and we were trying to figure out what we would eat for Christmas eve dinner, since we had just arrived in town from the coast. A man came in and invited a group of us to his house for Christmas Eve dinner. A complete stranger (but a friend of the owner of the backpacker) who opened up a very personal dinner to some tired, lonely, far-from-home dinner. And it was wonderful!

  5. That is something I need to practice more! I love being in a home where it is warm and inviting. Thanks for sharing your experience and what you’ve learned. Blessings, Carrie ( visiting from FMF)

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