Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hospitality is dead

This morning as I was doing my weekly lawn pooper scooping (one of the joys of pet ownership) one of my neighbors popped her head over the fence to say hello. The quick hello turned to a conversation about fall, new neighbors, pets and getting together. Soon afterwards I was chatting with my friend(also my neighbor) on the phone and I asked if they recalled the chatty neighbors name.

Neighbor Friend: "Sure, it's Chatty Neighbor (CN). Why?"
Me: "She came over to talk to me today and I couldn't remember her name. It was kind of weird actually because they never really talk to us."
Neighbor Friend: "Oh, well I was talking to CN yesterday and I mentioned how welcoming and friendly you and cute husband had been since I moved in to the neighborhood. We talked about getting everyone together for a bbq or something. Maybe that's why CN stopped by.
Me: "Huh."

I don't mean to sound unfriendly or snotty, I was just surprised. We've lived in our neighborhood for over 2 years now, and although I've had passing over the fence conversations with the CN family, we've never really gotten to know them to well. I think getting together would be wonderful. But the thing that struck me more about the conversations of the day was how surprised and thankful neighbor friend was over my family's friendliness.

Neighbor friend is new to the neighborhood, and upon arrival I did go introduce myself and bring a welcoming gift - as I think a good neighbor should. I also send cards to celebrate my friends' birthdays and anniversarys, I volunteer to babysit children and pets for vacations and evenings out, I send thank you cards when I'm invited to dinner and I bring host/ess gifts when I'm invited to someone's house. I send out cards and give out cookies for the holidays and pass out candy for Halloween.

I don't do any of things these things to please other people; I do them for me. I love the domestic arts - cooking, decorating, and crafting, and I truly enjoy creating a family environment with those I know and love. I love the celebrating the holidays and spreading "good cheer" (I've already got my xmas cards picked out!).

But I'm surprised (or maybe not) by how many people just don't do any of these things anymore. I've been to weddings and showers bearing gifts and never received a thank you, and the number of Christmas cards we receive never seems to be as many as those we know.

As I said above, I don't "give out to get" but everyone likes getting personal notes in the mail - including me! I like knowing you enjoyed and appreciated dinner at my house as much as you like hearing it from me, and I love knowing how your family is celebrating the holidays. I live in town because I want to know and share the company of my neighbors, to pass out candy to neighborhood children and see how they've decorated their houses for the holidays. Am I the only hospitable person left?


islandtimer said...

Hi Jen,

I'm with you! I love letting people know how much I enjoyed a dinner, a gift, their thoughtfulness. People have forgotten the lost art of a written "thank-you".

I came across your blog somehow...really enjoy it. I love to cook and entertain as well...spent a couple of years known as "the Pie Lady" at local country market :)

You might be interested in checking this out:
(I've been a distributor for a few years now, and love the convenience!)


Jen said...


Thanks for your support. I'm jealous - I'm a cook but not a talented baker - but I'm trying to learn!