My parents loved to travel. They also loved to have guests in our home. When we were growing up, our father’s business was closed for an hour between 12 noon and 1 pm. Our family had the big meal of the day at noon. It was our father’s custom to invite whoever was in the shop at noon to come home with him for dinner. It is possible that this practice was a challenge for our mother, who was the primary cook. Some meals are easier to stretch than others. If you have a roast, you can make the slices a bit thinner. But if you have prepared pork chops, the number you have prepared is all you have. However, I don’t remember my parents ever arguing about guests. I think mother simply prepared extra food for noon meals. Leftovers were common at suppertime in our house.

Their love of travel and their love of hosting guests came together in their membership in Servas International, a network of hosts and travelers. The organization matches travelers with hosts for brief visits. Through the organization, we met friends from around the world. People who were traveling to see the United States often came to our town in part because of its proximity to Yellowstone National Park. We often took our guests on tours of the Park. Growing up in a home where guests frequented our table was a wonderful. It was exciting to see who might come next and what stories they would have to tell of the places from which they came.

My wife’s family also belonged to Servas International. I think that they might have learned about the organization from my parents. When we married, we quickly began to enjoy having guests in our home. Our first apartment when we married was in a building that had formerly been a dormitory on our college campus. At the time we lived there, the building housed church offices on the first floor and the dorm rooms upstairs were used as hospitality for people coming to church meetings. We traded janitorial services for the building for our rent, so cleaned the rooms, including the guest rooms upstairs. When the church organizations did not have guests, we could arrange for our friends to stay in the guest rooms.

Unlike our parents, we never joined Servas, We hosted friends from around the world whom we had met in school or other places. We hosted an exchange student before we had children of our own and later hosted students for short term sister city exchanges and had an exchange daughter for a full year when our children were teens.

One of the important features we both agreed was important when we were shopping for a home is that it have room for guests. Even though there are just two of us, we have a three-bedroom home with room for people to come and visit.

One of the aspects I enjoy about having guests is cooking. After we had been married for a year, we became managers at our church’s summer camp. We had that job for just two summers, but we learned a lot about preparing meals for large numbers of people in those summers. There are some recipes that simply work better when preparing for a group of people. I am an early riser, and I like the role of breakfast cook. Some days when we have guests I cook to order, offering eggs, sausage, pancakes, omelettes, breakfast biscuits and burritos made individually. Sometimes, I whip up a big batch of scrambled eggs and a stack of toast. I like making things that our guests enjoy. I also enjoy cooking dinners and have quite a number of “go to” meals when entertaining.

This morning, however, we have no guests. I’ll probably have a pancake with my breakfast because i have pancake batter left over from the last week of having all of the bedrooms in our house full of guests.

As we went for a walk last evening, we spoke of our guests and how much fun it was to have our house full. The visits went well and we enjoyed them a lot. Our grandson is a delightful child and our daughter is a very good mother. Our Australian guests are lifelong friends with whom we have shared so many experiences over the years that we will never run out of subjects for our conversation. We now have the added dynamic of so many years of memories. When we get together we usually end up looking at pictures from years ago and telling stories of shared experiences.

I know people who are less eager to have guests. Their homes are sanctuaries where they withdraw from the busy nature of the outside world. They like their routines. They find others to be disruptive. I’m sure that there are some couples where one enjoys guests and the other is more reluctant to host. I can see where that kind of disagreement could cause tension. I feel very fortunate that my wife has always enjoyed the adventure of having guests in our home. She has developed a well honed set of skills as a hostess. She loves to look at others’ pictures and hear stories of their families. She has a real gift of remembering names and will inquire about the families of our guests, stirring lots of good conversation.

We had the good fortune of living in the Black Hills of South Dakota for 25 years. The Black Hills are a destination for travelers with so much to see. Fortunately for us, Birch Bay is also a destination for tourists. The close proximity of the mountains and the ocean offer a lot of activities and opportunities for sight seeing. Like the Black Hills, this is an easy place to host guests. There is a lot that we can show our guests from sunsets over the bay to alpine vistas and wildlife.

Our house seems quiet this morning. We’ve got a bit of extra work to wash all of the bedding and towels. But within a short time we’ll be ready for guests once again. Y’all come back now!

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