Saturday, March 3, 2012
In the old days, company would stop by to visit on the weekends or early evenings. They would often see the family in the yard, or garden, and know it would be okay to come by. Neighbors and friends would visit on the porch, or by the fence. Sometimes, they were invited into the house for a piece of pie or for lemonade.
These kind guests would not overstay their welcome. They would even visit while helping fix a car, or hanging the wash onto the line. When the dinner hour would arrive, they would leave the family to their routine and quiet time and head to their own home. If a lady visited a housewife, she knew to leave before (or right when) the husband arrived home. She knew he needed a quiet rest.
Relatives were known to visit at all hours and that was expected. But friends and neighbors had a more limited access to one's life.
Today, it is uncommon to see people sitting on their porches or out in their yards for long periods of time. In Northern New England, here in the U.S, folks are not as friendly as they are in the South. You don't see people waving to strangers as they drive, or walk, by. New Englanders feel a coldness rather than a friendly welcome. This makes it harder to find an opportunity to visit.
Many people are indoors watching television, using computers or playing video games. This sort of recreation has taken away some of the outdoor time (or visiting time) which used to be available.
I wonder if there is a way to spread a nationwide time for visiting. I would call it The Visiting Hour. Perhaps it would be on Saturday afternoons from one to three. This would encourage people to spruce up their homes, have pleasant refreshments to share and welcome a visit from friends and neighbors. It would be an open house time. This can be held on the front porch, with lovely patio furniture, or indoors near the fire. Guests could come and go throughout the few hours. These could be people from church, a neighbor, or a friend from the next county. It would be the national visiting hour and it would be a lovely way to bring communities together.
May I suggest that opening our homes up to guests would also help keep families on their best behavior - company behavior! Husbands and wives are less likely to squabble. The children will be more inclined to help clean and look forward to the visiting time. (Just make sure your entire family is home, for safety reasons, and that you do not invite strangers over.)
What if everyone is too busy to visit you? Then consider opening your gates to the halt, the lame, the blind, the elderly and the lonely. These are the forgotten ones in our communities who would dearly love this kind of human kindness. These are your neighbors and church members who don't get much opportunity for visiting. These are the friends we don't often think of when having a party or get-together.
You could also make this visiting hour any way you like. It could be a time of having tea, playing board games, gardening parties, or Bible studies. Or just sit and enjoy the conversation with light refreshments, having a break from your normal routine.
In Victorian times, people would have calling cards. When they visited someone who was not home, they would leave their card, so the owner would know they had stopped by. This was before telephones, which are great for verbal visits, but leave out a more personal time of a proper visit.
If The Visiting Hour cannot be made a common custom in the U.S., perhaps many of us could start the trend ourselves. Getting the word out with little invitations sent to friends, family, church members and neighbors would be a good start. It would bring a smile, and delight the heart. It would be a lovely form of hospitality in the home for this current age.
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An Invitation - Subscribe to The Legacy of Home and have it delivered directly to your email. I would also love to have you connect with me on Facebook and Twitter!