If you ask a group (I’ve tried this, so I know), “What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the word hospitality?” most people will say, “Martha Stewart.” And that’s just a shame, because Martha Stewart is not hospitable. What do I mean by that?
I once watched a Today show segment where Martha was illustrating how to decorate a gingerbread house. Meredith Vieira tried to follow Martha’s directions as they decorated it together. When they’d finished Martha turned the house to display the side she had done, rather than Meredith’s. Meredith asked her why she didn’t show her side, and Martha said, “We want it to look pretty.” Meredith looked offended and said, “Martha!” in a tone of surprise and hurt.
Hospitality is not providing the perfect meal in the perfect home by the perfect hostess. We’ve been led to believe that’s what it is by the Martha Stewart perfection that many of us secretly aspire to. I’d love to be able to turn out food and events that look like Martha’s, but I gave up on that long ago because of time and lack of ability (my gingerbread houses look like Meredith’s, not Martha’s).
I’ve sometimes enjoyed watching Martha’s show. I enjoy beautiful things, so it’s fun to see the amazing things she turns out. And I’m not dissing those of you who have similar ability. More power to you. But I still insist that, in itself, is not hospitality. That’s cooking and craft skill. On her television show, I once heard Martha ask a man, “Didn’t your mother teach you anything?” That is not hospitable.
I heard a story when I was a child about a family who invited a man to dinner who had been homeless much of his life. He was uncomfortable at the dinner table because he’d rarely sat at one. The only utensil he could handle well was the spoon, so he grabbed that and used it for the casserole, the peas, everything. The father of the family followed his cue and also used only his spoon. Soon the homeless man was talking comfortably with them. That’s hospitality.Bible, Christianity, hospitality, Martha Stewart