I asked her, “Have you ever considered moving back to Texas, Aunt Chris?” We were all seated around the dinner table enjoying Guatemalan soup, crusty bread, and iced tea. She looked calmly at me and said, “No, honey, Virginia is my home…Ralph was raised in Woodstock, and the cemetery is close by, I could never leave him.” Immediately, I understood, and I was sad I even asked the question. A person’s home is not where they were, it is where they are…a lesson I could learn.
Ralph and Aunt Chris were married for over fifty years, and although she was born and raised on a farm in Texas, Aunt Chris considers her husband’s home her own. When he died twenty years ago, she stayed in Virginia with her son and grandchildren. She visits Texas every year to attend the Loveless Family Reunion. Afterwards, she usually stays on a while, stopping in Quanah, Texas, her birth place and where her late brother’s (my grandfather) children farm the family land. She usually ends her trip in Oklahoma where she visits another brother who settled there. Her one night stop at my home was in route to the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, where she would catch a plane after a hot stop here in the friendly state, and go home to Virginia.
Did I mention that she is 88 years old? She is not your typical octogenarian. She flies in airplanes, she works in her gardens, she wears very fashionable clothes, her make-up is always perfect, and she is rarely tired. She lives in a Greek Revival plantation house on a farm outside of Strasburg, just a few miles from the famous Civil War battlefield, Fishers Hill. She speaks with a seasoned southern accent, which is very different than my Texas twang. She is methodical and patterned, and her manners are polished. She does not put her nose in other peoples business, but she gives her opinion freely.
When my mother first asked me if she could bring Aunt Chris here for the night before she took her on to the airport, I was very excited. She had never seen my house before, and I wanted her to be comfortable in our humble abode. I immediately scheduled an appointment for my carpets to be cleaned. After that the girls and I just dove right in, and it was fun transforming the blah of summer that had accumulated and piled up in the house into a freshly vibrant home again. It was just what we needed to uplift our spirits and kick start the back to school campaign. I am thankful I had this motivation to get up and get some projects put behind me, and thanks to my mother who came a few days early, my home looks amazing. The team effort made all the difference.
Aunt Chris’ stay here was too short, but I enjoyed my time with her. We laughed and drank cocktails and she told us about her friends that she goes to lunch with every week. The girls are very blessed to know their great great aunt from Virginia, a true southern bell, and a dying breed. We are planning to visit her in the fall 2013. I cannot wait to experience the mystique of her restored plantation, and her unique hospitality. I hope our family’s hospitality was pleasant enough for Aunt Chris, I know it was. We loved making our home comfortable, and we worked hard to give the best we had. That’s what hospitality really is anyway, isn’t it? Just giving the very best, whatever it is, and doing it with warmth and joy.
I hope my girls see that cleaning, decorating, and entertaining is not about the show, and therefore it need not be stressful or a drudgery. It is about making a home, big or small, a place that facilitates all that a family desires to be, and all that a family is designed to be. Hospitality, if done properly, allows people to move effortlessly through our home, in our space without feeling uncomfortable or unwelcome. This is the joy of homemaking, and what makes it so rewarding. It is an art really, and it is so inspiring to create in this way. As the girls work alongside me in this home, I feel this is the best education they could ever receive. This is true Home-schooling.
- Clean carpets
- Do all the laundry and put it away
- Wash all the sheets, and fluff the pillows
- Clean out the fridge
- Plan a tasty meal, shop and cook as much as possible before hand
- Sweep and declutter porches
- Buy a new candle and let it burn a few hours before they arrive
- Dust the entire house
- Declutter desks and bookshelves
- Make a pie and buy Blue Bell ice cream to go with it
- Make sure that the bathrooms are clean and well stocked. Each bathroom should have a trash can
- Schedule time to get pretty yourself before the guests arrive, no need looking like a martyr
- Put a bouquet of fresh seasonal flowers on a counter, mantle, or table
- Practice smiling in front of a mirror, you would be surprised how just a smile warms a home
- Have fun!!!!