Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Just for Company

The Time of Roses, c.1901

Many of the old homes had china cabinets with dishes for special occasions.  This helped make having company a lovely, exciting event!  Mothers would have a nice clean room, freshly polished, for visiting. She would also welcome her guests into the kitchen for tea, coffee or some dessert.

When we are out on the road and weary from our travels, it is comforting to stop by to visit and have familiar things offered - like tea and cookies, near a warm fire. This strengthens us for the rest of our journey.

Ma and Pa Ingalls, in the 1800's, * would buy white sugar when there was a little extra money. This was the good sugar and was saved just for company.

In some modern homes of today, there is a prevalent attitude of "me."  The décor and the lifestyle reflect a selfishness, and a laid back casualness, that knows nothing of hospitality.  Guests are told to wash their own cup and drink whatever is in the fridge.  No tea or treats are handy, because that is not "our way," say the residents. "People must accept us the way we are," is their mantra.  This sad state leaves weary souls wandering and seeking the refreshment of home.

When we set up our kitchens and living rooms in a way that expects to have company, there is a sense of joy and pride in doing good. We share our happy homes, even for a few hours, with dear friends and family. This helps cheer them on their way.

But most of all, when we have special things just for company, we tend to keep our homes cleaner. We tend to take care of our own appearance. We are ready for that knock on the door and are excited because we get to enjoy the special tea and cake that has been reserved for just such an occasion.

Yet, what of the children who beg to use the fine china, or have the special cakes now? Do we say we will use our company things for our own immediate family? Or will we smile with joy and say, "We will plan a special afternoon and invite company so we can use these things!"  In this way, won't we teach them delayed gratification and how lovely it is to share our good things with others?  Won't we teach them how special it is to scrub and polish the house, and work hard to prepare nice things, and get dressed up? Won't we teach them there is a difference, in life, from the daily routine, and special occasions?  And that it isn't always just about us?

This is all something of an ongoing good deed. . . To share a few lovely things in life, in our homes, with those we care about. This brings out good manners in all involved. This brings a charm and a dignity to our characters.

Wouldn't it be lovely if we all had an annual Guest Book in the front hall, where visitors could sign, write the date, and leave a little note? Even if it was just our next door neighbor? What a lovely recording of the family history this treasure would be!

Mrs. White

* Little House on the Prairie page 224

From the Archives - 

1940's - Encouraging you to be an Old Fashioned Housewife.

You are Essential - Mother Makes the Home.

Why Rules and Order are So Important - Keeping House with Small Children.


Unknown said...

Great post and the guest book is a wonderful idea!

Susan in Canada said...

I've had a guest book going since 2004! The first entry is from my husband's parents who were attending my son's 10th birthday ... he is now 18 years old! Wow! I love looking back on events we've hosted over the years, international students, and relatives that have stayed with us while passing through. Lots of lovely family memories! I also find that guests like to look back and get a little glimpse of our lives. When I have an overnight guest, I leave the book on a little writing table in the guest room with a pen.

Deanna said...

Dear Mrs. White, My Grandma had a Guest Book and I still remember that I thought this was neat! So I have one. Only problem is, I forget to get it out when company comes. Need to place it out on the table. Will do that today!
Sweet Spring to you.
God bless,

Anonymous said...

I think some of both, using the "good" dishes for immediate family & for company, is good. We use them for special occasions with or wi thout company.

suzannah said...

lovely post. it relaxed me a little... i wish i could be a stay at home mom with a big old 1800s house to stay care of and tend too.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mrs. White:

We have special things for guests now. I love to "fix" a special dish or treat for guests, and yes I have pretty dishes that I save for visitors! I've done that all through my married life, even with a small child to observe. I was brought up the same way, and YES it does teach consideration for others among other things.

Thank you for this post! I believe we all can use reminders of a gentler time, one that considered other people. I've known many who sing the "me me me" song so much, and it's sad. Again, thank you for posting!

Kathleen in IL