Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Visiting Hour

Summer Flower, Doorway, Nantucket, MA

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.

Mrs. White

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Mrs. Stam said...

Someone told me this observation and it's so true, back 50 or 60 years ago, houses were build with from porches, welcoming people into their life. Now houses are build with back porches and with privacy fences to shut people out!!!!

The way houses are build reflect the way we interact with people, right now we are a society that are very individualistic and private.

I think, we should be more open to have visitors, and bring on back the front porches :-)

Laura Lane said...

I love this idea. We used to have what we called Friday Night Fellowship. We'd invite folks to the house then tell them they were welcome every Friday night. It was great for awhile. We built some close friendships. Then we moved out of town and it just never caught on in the next location.

I'll have to think about how to implement this idea again. I love drop in company. It keeps me motivated to keep things tidy as well as being fun.

Blessings to you Mrs. White, and if you're ever in Carthage, Missouri, do drop in!


Very Merry Seven said...

Oh Mrs. White, This is so beautiful. We do love hospitality and having folks over very often; especially at a moment's notice. I love the idea of Saturdays between 1-3.

In our neighborhood, we all moved in at the same time some 22 years ago. Often, on a Saturday afternoon, many of our neighbors are out gardening, mowing, etc. We often stop and chat with each other; visiting each other's gardens, talking amid the landscaping......ahhhh..for summer days to return.

This would also be a great way to live out a testimony as unto the Lord among the neighbors, as wall as a opportunity for them to interact with our children and see them working diligently beside us. What a testimony! Our family life can speak far more than our words sometimes. Then, when they ask us the reason for the hope that lies within us, we can have a ready answer.

Thank you so much for sharing.

Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us. ~1Peter 2:12

Cindi said...

I feel blessed to say we have a great neighborhood in which we have lots of 'visiting hours' and parties. Over the summer (when it's nice out), there's rarely a time when we don't have a nighlty neighborhood barbeque. It's a wonderful opportunity and blessing to have such a strong bond and connection with your neighbors.

Beth said...

Growing up (we lived with my grandmother) there were always people dropping by to visit. My grandmother had an open door policy but it was always respected by family and friends alike. They never overstayed there welcome.

I love the idea of having people stop over to visit and although I have let my friends (my family lives a 2 day drive away) know they can it rarely happens.

One friend of mine hosts an open house every other month inviting whoever wants to stop by for dinner and fellowship to do so. She emails and uses Facebook. Another friend has an open house during the holiday season with finger foods and desserts.

I was discouraged by the lack of response with our friends locally but reading this post has given me the determination to try again.

Many blessings to you.

Noelle the dreamer said...

What a lovely post and a grand idea!
I have often admired the beautiful porches old houses in the US bore and can well imagine people visiting, sipping perhaps a mint julep...Do you really think Northerners are not as friendly as their Southern counterparts? I remember the kitchen table to be where everyone congregated when I was little, the warmest room in the house of course but this was not in this part of the northern hemisphere...Still, it sounds wonderful and I hope it catches on!
Thank you for and and bless you!

Mrs. Settles said...

My grandmother and I were talking about this just today! We live in the "south"...okay, it is KY which isn't way south but we consider ourselves southerners. We do wave as we pass strangers on the street, whether we are walking or driving. Some small communities still have front porch visits, but not often. My particular street does not do this, except for the Minnonite family. They've stopped by to say hi a couple of times as they were out for their family walk. I find that very interesting.
It is a shame we've become more socialable online but have neglected our "real" life neighbors and face-to-face relationships.


Jessica@MakingHomeSweeter said...

I've often wished for something like this. I'm from the South but now live in Arizona. Back home we always sit on the porch and it just welcomes attention from neighbors passing by. In Arizona, we don't have porches but patios out back with tall concrete walls surrounding our yard. I don't even know what my neighbors look like. I love this idea of a visiting hour, it sure would be lovely.

Kathy S said...

I love your ideas about visiting and do miss having a porch, but have a deck on our townhouse that backs onto a walkway. It does sadden me to hear people say that northern New Englanders aren't friendly and don't wave and so on. I was born and grew up in Maine surrounded by love and some of the friendliest people you could ever meet. Since marrying, I've lived all over the country (military and civil service). I've loved everyone and found them welcoming and like to think I'm giving "Maine-iacs" a good reputation too.

maven said...

This was a lovely post. I remember the late 1960s when my grandmother set aside Saturday afternoons to visit her "shut-in" friends. My dad would "carry" her in the car to her elderly friend's house with a meal or two in a tin pie plate and a cake. This was her version of meals-on-wheels and it seemed so personal and warm to see two elderly widows helping each other out. This is my idea of real Christian charity and friendship.

I have just discovered your blog, and I love it. Thank you.

Laura Lane said...

When my children were much younger, my husband and I had what we called Friday Night Fellowship. Our home was open to friends and church members to come to enjoy food and fellowship.

Once you were invited once, you were welcome to come every week if you like. People came and went, but one couple in particular became lifelong friends. Our kids are so close, they are like cousins. It's a good thing for both families since we don't have family nearby.

I think, now that we've closed the restaurant, that it would be nice to do something like that again this fall. It will be a little challenging, since our house is rather small for entertaining. But, it's what God's given us, so we need to find a way to share.

Be blessed and have a lovely week. We are starting school with my youngest this morning... just math and English. She's in 9th grade.

Mrs. Laura Lane

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