Last Saturday I was watching a movie with Ephraim when I had a moronic thought. Well, not moronic, exactly, but definitely mindless. One of the characters in the film owned a cafe–a little homey place with coffee and pastries and things–and a brief scene showed her interacting with her customers who were there for breakfast. And before I thought about what I was about to say, it spilled out of my mouth: Oh, I’d love to have a cafe like that.
I meant it sincerely. I enjoy hospitality. I generally like serving people. I like the atmosphere of a cafe and the comfort of a cup of coffee and something sweet to eat. I like the thought of being the person that provides it.
Of course, the moronic thing about this is that I do this multiple times EVERY DAY and I don’t relish it. I don’t love it. In fact, it’s probably my biggest struggle about homemaking. All that cooking! All that standing in the kitchen! All that meal planning! All that dishwashing! If I’m going to complain about anything related to the home, it’s probably going to be related to cooking and how much I don’t really like it.
So as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I knew how ridiculous I was being. Not ridiculous for pining for a moment over that cozy cafe scene, as that was absolutely genuine and heartfelt–I hadn’t really realized how heartfelt until it just bubbled up in my heart and leapt out of my mouth. But I was being ridiculous for not more quickly making the connection between the covetable hospitality of the cafe owner and my own role as Head Of Hospitality right here at home.
Why does it seem so idealistic and appealing when you’re doing it for someone who’s not family? If I had random strangers in my home every day asking for oatmeal and milk for breakfast, would I do it grudgingly, or would I wake up and eagerly head downstairs to the kitchen to greet them? But when it’s the same four customers every day, and they’re not paying anything, the act loses its luster somewhat, doesn’t it?
It’s weird. What gives? It’s just weird. It doesn’t make any sense.
I made a decision that day to treat my kitchen like the cafe it is. And this is how it took shape.
I am not a seasonally-decorative person. I was somewhat derided for this when I was teaching elementary Spanish because I owned zero seasonal clothing. No Halloween earrings, no Easter socks, no Christmas sweaters or t-shirts. I think I was the only one. I had to be prompted to change out the decor in my classroom and hallway every nine weeks. I don’t dislike it, exactly–I just never think about it. It’s not on my list of priorities.
At home, I do Christmas decorating, but that’s it. There are no spring mantels or autumn tablescapes in my house. I’m sorry! I just don’t get into it.
This year I’ve been somewhat glad that we won’t actually be home for Christmas, so I didn’t plan on decorating at all. But something about my newfound realization about the significance of my own little cafe (just my kitchen and the nook attached to it where we eat all of our meals) made me want to do more for my four faithful customers. I would do no differently if I owned a coffee shop somewhere, right?
five candles in a serving bowl filled with beans (to keep them in place) and cuttings from one of our overgrown bushes out front.
It’s not anything earth-shattering. Some IKEA lanterns and a makeshift advent wreath and the garland that I usually put on the stairs. (I want to make some himmeli ornaments to hang in the windows out of the plethora of paper straws I have stashed away, but I haven’t found a good tutorial yet.) But when the kids saw it, they happily shrieked “Christmas!” and we had a space to enjoy our meals and the season of Advent that is upon us.
I want to be more intentional about valuing the people in my home. It’s an attitude adjustment, for sure, and to be perfectly honest I’m struggling with it as I strive to understand what that really looks like. A paradigm shift in my own kitchen is a small start, but a start it is.