Good morning from the beach. I’m officially in retreat. Last summer I invited my 2 best friends to run away from real life for a few days of peace, quiet, and introverting together on the beach at my parents while they’re away. Unfortunately only 2 of the 3 of us were able to make it back for year 2. But it’s my first day and I’m not sure if I’ll write (publicly) every day or not.
The last time I was here, on Dania Beach, was Mother’s Day weekend. My parents, a family friend, and I sat down to a big post church lunch (steak, potatoes, salad, bread, etc). We served our plates and as we began to cut our steaks the friend turned to me and asked, Becs, are you a good cook like your Mom?
Before I could respond honestly and say that no one can cook like my Momma my parents tripped over each other responding for me. My Mom said: all of our girls are GREAT cooks, way better than I am. Just as my Dad was saying: Becs is a great hostess, you should see how nice she keeps her place and how many people she has over – she does a great job.
I looked down at my steak and blinked back a few tears. The two people whose hospitality I admire most in the world had just gushed about mine. I imagine it’s how my Dad feels when Peyton Manning or Reggie Wayne say he’s a great coach. Is there any higher compliment then the best of the best saying you’re one of them?
Everything I know about hospitality I learned from three people: my Dad, my Mom, and my friend Nancy. Nancy’s house was the house EVERYONE wanted to hang out at growing up. Unless, of course, they were hanging out at ours because, well, we had jet skis. But if I wasn’t teaching myself new tricks on the jet skis at my house, I wanted to be at Nancy’s playing SimCity with her kids and getting invited every.single.time to stay for dinner. She never made a big fuss about it just: stay for dinner?
These three people made me long for the day I’d have a place of my own so I could be as fun and welcoming as they are. In one of the sweetest gestures ever, Nancy was my realtor when I bought my first home. The woman I want to be as a homeowner helped me find the perfect spot to start my journey. It means that much more to me as a result.
I was reminded this week how simple hospitality can be. My parents were headed out on a three week trip and while they were set to be away, my friend and I would be borrowing the condo. As she hurried around packing and preparing my Mom called to say she’d restocked the drink fridge, set out the coffee, and she was leaving car keys in case we needed a car to get around.
Being hospitable doesn’t have to be complicated. It just has to be inclusive. In the same way Nancy use to stick her head into the playroom where we had 5 computers going on Sims and say: stay for dinner? We can make our homes feel like home to those who come.
Hospitality is contagious. As I packed my own bags to fly, uber, and show up on my parents doorstep for some TLC I found myself setting out the pool key and texting my bible study: pool key is on the counter, come use it. I made sure there were drinks in the fridge and clean pool towels and I locked up smiling that the next person who came in, wouldn’t be me.
My Mom is an amazing cook and she keeps the cleanest house I’ve ever been in (and I say this having lived with her for 18 years so if she’s had a messy day, I should know about it). My Dad is the warmest, most inviting person ever (maybe partly because he doesn’t have to do the cooking). They make everyone feel like family. And over the years I’ve watched hundreds of my Dad’s players and coaches come for a dinner or a holiday and want to come back again. Some even joke that when they retire from wherever they’ve ended up since, they’ll come back to Thanksgiving or Christmas….and they’ll be welcomed.
‘Only a life lived to the service of others is worth living’ – Albert Einstein
As for me and my house, we’re focused on serving others well this summer.