Last weekend on a whim my wife invited our neighbors over for dinner, and had a mighty old time. Their daughter (which is a definite regular over at our house) was with the kids while we talked over dinner and afterwards.
We’ve talked about having others over, and have done this a few times, but more as birthday parties or when we moved into our house as a housewarming party. I’d definitely love to have others over more often. But what I’m wondering is on the whole, is this practice fading?
I recently started getting a Focus on the Family Magazine (technically since they have so many things going on, they call this the Family magazine) in the mail. I didn’t request it I don’t think, but must have agreed to one or two of something in their Action network to merit them deciding I could use a copy. Anyway, they have some (but maybe not all) good articles, and one in particular that I read recently was over Reviving Hospitality (read it). Keep in mind that it seems sometimes this organization may take the view that culture is changing, and not for the good (a bit more than I might agree with). So, here’s the article beginning:
Hospitality is quickly disappearing from American life.
During the mid to late 1970s, the average American entertained 14 to 15 times a year. By the late 1990s, that figure fell to eight times per year — a decline of 45 percent. If this trend continues, the blessing of hospitality will be nearly extinct in less than one generation.
The article goes on to focus on things that people might use as excuses, including being too busy or focusing on things being perfect or a reluctant spouse. Which probably get used a lot. But in my view it’s not all about any of that. I desire to know people more, not just have them come over to eat. I want to talk about what they have going on, what they do for fun, possibly kids, whatever the topic goes to. Maybe play a game. Just hang out. Too many times in too many things there’s no really open time to just be yourself, but having people over should definitely be a time that you can be yourself and so can your guests. But I want to know you and not just in some shallow way.
It seems that most of us feel stuck in shallow conversations all the time, and really want to have an opportunity to just be themselves without having a need to wear a ‘mask’. I completely see hospitality as being the antidote to that.
Is hospitality not what it used to be?
If I look back as a kid, I don’t recall my family having people over a lot, but keep in mind I was born in 1979 so that probably fits well with their statistics. In talking with my grandmother, it does seem that hospitality (and in general caring for others such as your neighbors) was much more generally held than possibly is the case now. I think as a whole in our culture we have almost lost the interest in hospitality. Maybe not everyone but enough of a percentage to notice.
What do you think?