Perhaps one of my favorite things to do is to cook for people, especially in our home. I love the space that gets created when people come over to our house, the conversation, the memories. It’s honestly one of my favorite things to do, to host people. My personality type has been appropriately labeled the “Hostess of the World”. I love to plan the meals, prepare the desserts, pour the wine. Kitchenware makes me unreasonably excited, as does a good baking dish.
When Tucker and I first got married, we didn’t have many friends over due to the tiny apartment we lived in. It smelled constantly of smoke and we are almost certain our neighbors were involved in a little recreational drug use, if you know what I mean. Thought the area was less than perfect, I think fondly of the tiny kitchen, where we were literally elbow to elbow every time we cooked. We had a tiny antique table that fit the two of us perfectly, and our couch took up the majority of our living room. It was the place I learned that cooking was something I loved, especially if it was for other people. It’s where I learned to make quinoa, breaded chicken cutlets and blond brownies. I perfected spaghetti and meatballs, one of my husband’s favorite meals. I learned how to make a whole roast chicken, barbecue pork tenderloin, blueberry crisp, and homemade pizza crust. I learned how to cook in that tiny kitchen, and though it was tiny and cramped, I am thankful for it.
Last July, we bought a house. Built in the 70’s, on about one-third of an acre, our house is something I never knew I was dreaming of. We have a house with a heavy, beautifully carved wooden front door, with old, beatiful trees in the back yard. Our kitchen is massive, complete with a gas stove, black cabinets, and stainless steel everything. We have room for a table with six chairs (!!), and the hardwood floors in our house are original and gorgeous. We have extra bedrooms, our couch fits comfortably with the chair in our living room, and we have a normal sized washer and dryer. Did I mention the garage?! Huge. Spacious. We have more space for more people, which makes me super happy. We even have a dog now, which is a blessing and a curse when we have people over.
What I am learning, is that our home is our home because of the people in it, and because of the memories that come along with it. Because of the meals created around our table, the faces we see here. I this house, I have made chicken quinoa salad with lemony iced tea, Sunday roast, and chicken pot pie. Homemade custard, no bake cookies, and breaded chicken cutlets, one of my sister’s favorite meals. Chicken in adobo sauce over jasmine rice, a specialty of my sister’s. Homemade chicken ramen, chicken and orzo soup, and tortellini with mushroom sauce on the days where we need a little comfort. Tons of salads, cobb, with goat cheese and artisan tomatoes. Migas, crepes, tacos, and apple crumble pie. My sister and I, last summer, had a canning day where we made our own blackberry jams, and canned tomatoes.
Our house isn’t brand new and almost every piece of furniture we own was given to us. I love our house, our massive backyard, and my spacious kitchen. I love it all, and though our neighborhood has some very interesting characters, I love it here. I grew up in a home where we didn’t ever have people over. It was always spotless, but there were never people inside the home, creating memories. But it was always clean.
Our house won’t be spotless, ever. The dished may or may not be done, there will inevitably be dog hair floating around, and the carpet in the living has tea stains all over it. Our walls need a little more decoration, and we could use some more furniture in the guest rooms. Our dog will inevitably try to eat off your plate or bring you his ball about twelve hundred times during the night. But we will fill it with people, every now and again, and we will create memories here. Because we need it; I need it. We need the memories, and we need the faces because that is what makes a home a home.
One of my favorite authors Shauna Niequist said this in her book Bread & Wine: “But it isn’t about perfection, and it isn’t about performance. You’ll miss the richest moments in life-the sacred moments when we feel God’s grace and presence through the actual faces and hands of the people we love- if you’re too scared or too ashamed to open the door.”
Open the door. Pour the wine or tea or juice in paper cups. Open the pizza box, the fridge, the oven. Take a seat at the table or on the floor or on the couch and thank God for the people He has put in your life. Make room for them, and open the door. You’ll be so glad you did.