I grew up in a small town, in a neighborhood. Our houses weren’t fancy… Neither we nor my neighbors had “entertaining” style houses. I think that is just a realestate euphenism for “showy.” We did not entertain, as in, have many corporate cocktail or dinner party functions at our homes. You know those once a year events that you have to have and everyone attending has to go to. I’ve grown up and been to a few now, sometimes even at an “entertaining” home. There was nothing missed there.
Let me tell you what we did do. We romped about our neighborhood: running, bike-riding, playing some pretend adventure. We ate snacks wherever we landed. Most anyone’s mom or many of the other good ladies were ready hostesses with koolaid – in a pitcher, freshly mixed, and maybe some store brand cookies. We would bang on the screen door and bounce on in to chat a few minutes, dropping off some very fine bouquet or other improvised gift and bounce on out smiles and thank you’s a plenty.
Same at the pool. People brought things and shared. We all did. There was no tab lunch counter, complete with shrimp cocktails and steak sandwiches. Somebody’s Mama brought whatever she had and we all feasted. People cooked out in their backyards and hollered over the fence to neighbors to come on over, dinner was ready and there was plenty. And people came on over. No one ever dared offer financial repayment or even worried too much about what they didn’t have to bring that day. There would be other days and those days it could be their turn to holler out.
When weather did not permit, people would fill our cozy kitchens and eight foot ceilinged houses. We just sat close and grew close. Sometimes the men would brave the cold with the boys and throw balls to them in the street. We watched tv games on regular size screens. Kids played kickball while Mamas sat on porches talking and Dad’s hovered around a grill. I remember no caterers, no florists – people cut their own flowers from their yards, no invitations.
We didn’t “entertain;” we grew up together, we shared what we had, we learned the joy of giving and receiving.
Today, during Servolution, we encountered many people who don’t know what that is about. We tried to just share some small thing we had: a doughnut, a water with them and they were bewildered, sometimes unable to just say, “Hey, thanks.”
We live in a world that sells and buys…giving and receiving are suspect. Today, so many people seemed to feel this compulsion to pay for our gift…something that we just offered, something that they didn’t even ask for or pursue.
What in us cannot just say, “thanks.”
In some ways the good old days were not. Many things are better. Medicine and racial ignorance and, and… I’m thinking…I think we have bought the line that we must have everything…and the very best of it…or we are less…Madison Avenue has gut hooked us all…It all must be ours and we must have our own of everything…Sharing is for suckers. So we do now… have it all… So much stuff. …Stuff that we haven’t actually paid for yet, and choices of everyting in our pantry, and that “entertaining” home. And yet, something is grossly amiss and our paucity is staggering. We cannot receive and share and enjoy good things right in front of us, extended into our very hand. We can’t…