Jan 29, 2015

Sure-Fire Ways to Make Houseguests Feel Awkward and Unwelcome

Photo By Leon Ephraïm
Image by Leon Ephriam
The other day one of my friends made an inquiry on facebook that brought me to a jaw-dropping realization. She and her family had just purchased their first house and wanted to know things people did to make others feel welcome in their home. Some of the answers were so thoughtful and charming, and all I kept thinking was how I totally and completely failed at each and every one of those things. I am basically the anti-hostess in almost every way, so much so there may as well be a sky-high wall of brambles surrounding my house and a warning sign on my door. No, not even on the door--maybe out on the curb, just so you are safe. Instead of "Beware of Dog," my sign would say "Beware of Complicated Wreck and Her Disastrous Baggage."

8 Ways to Make People Feel Welcome

Here are just some of the cute fun things people suggested my friend do:
  • Keep the house tidy, but not sterile
  • Throw comfortable blankets and pillows around the sitting room
  • Display interesting books or photo albums on the coffee table
  • Encourage guests to make their way through the house (no closed doors)
  • Fresh baked cookies always in the oven or on the counter
  • Offer them something to eat or drink
  • A nice fire in the hearth on cold days
  • Take their coat, but let them keep their shoes on

Tidy? Ha! Open doors? Ha ha! Fresh cookies? Ha ha ha! This might as well be some nightmarish version of the laughing game. I need to take Hospitality 101 or something. Send help! I am not even joking.

I am the worst at having people show up at my house, especially unannounced. In fact, just the other night someone came to the door for a visit and I am sure nothing could have hidden the wide eyed shock and embarrassment as it struck across my face. "Here? You want to come in? I wasn't expecting you." All those things seemed to tumble out of my mouth at once. Yep, how could you resist that welcome wagon? Our christmas tree was still up, there were boxes and clothes all over the sitting room floor and if you wanted to sit on the couch you first had to remove the car seat, baby carrier, bags and papers piled there. Not to mention the piles of dirty laundry at the bottom of the stairs and the heap of shoes growing ever larger by the door, most of them mine. And that was just what you could see from the front room. Good grief!

I know one day I will look back on this tumult my life is in and want it back. I'll want all the freelance work and the busy. I'll want the holy terror of a three year old spoiling every room I try to spiff up. I will want a crying baby and my hands full of dirty diaper or burp cloths. However, the moment those visitors knocked on the door I just wanted to shut it and say, "No, no, no. This is not my life. I don't want this to be me." It was shameful, I know. Life has been especially hectic this new year and I can't help but feel a little out of place in it all. I mean, shouldn't the adjustment period be over by now. I mean, our little girl is five months old! I have been working as a freelance writer for more than nine years! I have a three year old! Shouldn't I have all of this in hand by now? The truth is, I don't.

So here's the deal. I am changing my ways. Do I want a clean and tidy place to welcome guests? Yes. But am I going to be ashamed if my house isn't perfect? Not anymore. I welcome visitors one and all! Please knock on my door day or night, just be sure to expect a bit of a mess. After all, I am raising an amazing Superhero who thinks pants and socks are optional for now. I am constantly lugging around the most precious pink bundle and am grateful to have my hands full with her during most hours of the day. I work every spare moment I have so I can afford hospital bills, car payments, insurance and a few fun things on the side. This means I might still have my pajamas on when you come over and there is a slight chance my socks won't match. There will not be warm cookies, hip beverages or a warm fire in the hearth. I don't even have a hearth. But I do have a heart, and you are completely welcome to that whenever you need it. "Welcome. Please come in. I am always expecting you."

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