Scruffy Hospitality

Scruffy hospitality means you’re not waiting for everything in your house to be in order before you host and serve friends in your home. Scruffy hospitality means you hunger more for good conversation and serving a simple meal of what you have, not what you don’t have.

~Reverend Jack King

I recently stumbled upon this article singing the praises of “scruffy hospitality.”  The term has come to have been coined by a Rev. Jack King, who spoke about this concept in a Knoxville, TN sermon and published it on his blog (which I could not find a link too, but will attach the PDF here).  Both articles discuss the idea that your home need not be “perfect” in order to entertain guests.

I employ this principle on a fairly regular basis now.  While I did ask Joker for some help generally tidying up and cleaning a few things, we had several guests over yesterday and our home is no where near being ready to be photographed for Better Homes and Gardens.  In the living room there is a stack of boxes that need to be unpacked.  The guest room has basically been taken over as storage for boxes, the kitchen counter has an array of food stuffs and appliances that make it difficult to see the counter tops.  I had dishes drying in the dishrack, and the dishes that I dirtied in the process of making dinner stacked in the sink because I was running my already full dishwasher.  While people were over! GASP.

Both sets of guests, didn’t give a furry rats behind of any of these things.  Our first guest was Joker’s “niece” and “nephew” with their mom.  I served BLT’s, chicken tenders and grapes on plastic plates.  We took the kids down the playground for an hour after lunch, and their mom stayed home and got a much needed reprieve to get some work done.  On the way home, Joker’s neice declared it the “BEST DAY EVER!!!

In the evening, we hosted our friend’s D and A.  Joker has been ill, so I cooked again (he helped clean… he’s not THAT sick).  We served kielbasa with my mom’s secret “sauce” (Maple syrup + Mustard), green beans, and potatoes drizzled with olive oil and thyme.  For dessert, I mad some brownies from a box, got ice cream and whipped cream and some strawberries that I had prepped with sugar to create a nice syrup.  We followed the evening with a screening of Wonder Woman.  And guess what.  The didn’t care about the rat’s behind either.

Neither of my “Meals” were gourmet, or quite frankly even difficult to put together.  The point is that no one came over for a 5 star meal yesterday, they came over to spend time with Joker and I, and have a good time.

This morning however, I was thinking about this article.  I am glad I am in a place now that I can have people over with minimal prep and and just enjoy them.  I remember when I was a child, we were in my uncle’s neighborhood and someone desperately had to pee.  We were denied entry to use their restroom, because we hadn’t given sufficient notice and were escorted to the nearest gas station.  Why?  Their house was a mess.  Would it have mattered that much had we seen the mess??? I am inclined to think that I would not have even remembered the incident, had we just gone in, used the restroom and left.

This is true too with my ex-husband.  He came from a family who was very very set on appearances and how it would look to the outside.  I remember the first time, I was “in the family” and enlisted to help with his parents annual pool party.  There was a 4 page excel checklist of things that needed to be taken care of before the party, and each person’s name was listed.  When we got married, we vowed that we would never be that crazy when planning a party, and would often have guests over without all the fuss.

That of course is not what happened.  Ever year my ex-husband would want to start prepping earlier and earlier.  One year, I had completed my tasks for the party early, and sat on the couch to read a little before the guests arrived. He had not finished his tasks and spent 30 min berating my in front of my exchange student about how lazy I was, and how he had to do everything.  Every year it was worse and worse, and it got to the point that we could barely even have our parents over because the extreme obsession to make everything perfect before we had guests. Of course this would later become attributed to me, and my “mental instability.”

I learned that scruffy hospitality can be better most when I was hosting exchange students.  For most of the time I had students, I lived in no larger than a 1200 square foot home.  Some of the homes that we would visit would be upwards of twice that size, with ornate features and finishes.  Each and every time, my child (and when we hosted events the other’s) would state their preference for my home stating “I felt like I was in a museum and would be afraid I would ruin something” and “our house is much more cozier like a home.”

So as it turns out, running around like a depraved chicken isn’t even necessary.  Accepting your home for what it is, and inviting other’s to be part of your life is far more rewarding that spending all of your time going crazy trying to get everything perfect.  It also happens to turn out that I wasn’t the problem after all, as I spend a lot more time entertaining now and I am enjoying every minute of it!






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