The French writer J-A Brillat-Savarin once wrote that "to receive guests is to take charge of their happiness during the entire time they are under your roof." That’s quite a responsibility. I also think it’s a privilege. We “take charge” of someone’s happiness when they have trusted us with it.
There’s a lot to be said for “making your own entertainment.” Music has such power to bring people together. Think how many of your friends listen to several of the same bands as you? Throwing back the carpet, sticking on iTunes and having a dance can be very freeing. I once even had a go at basic flamenco at one party in a student house in Liverpool. My cousin plays guitar and lacks nothing in confidence. Family parties often involved him leading a singalong. His repertoire changed little in 40 years, but there are now four generations who know the family take on what passes for backing-vocals to “The Boxer” and who get a little glassy-eyed remembering my aunt’s, slightly tipsy, dance to “Jamaica Farewell.” For those who enjoy dressing up, there are various scripted murder-mystery kits on sale. You’d be surprised how well shy people respond to being someone else for an evening. Simple role-playing games like Werewolves can be fun, or you can organise a card school if you prefer a more focused style of game.
|Dressed for murder!|
I’ll finish by coming back to my Mum. She once told me that there are two types of people: those who offer hospitality and those who wait for it to come to them. “Be one of the first, Paul,” she said. “They’re the happier ones.” Hospitality doesn’t have to be any more stressful than the pressure we put ourselves under to do something that’s not in our nature. Good hospitality is simply a matter of inviting people whose company we already enjoy, to share time with us, doing the things we like, in our own home.
This post is adapted from an article first published in The Yorkshire Times.