While reading a recent Sunday School lesson on Hospitality, I was reminded of how my mother-in-law possesses true southern hospitality.
I also remembered my waitressing days at the Olive Garden restaurant in Macon where the word “Hospitaliano” was a part of the theme for the Olive Garden. Hospitaliano was embroidered on our aprons, engrained in our demeanor and the word even found it’s way into the song we sang to unsuspecting birthday guests. For two years, I was an Italian, hospitable, singing waitress helping support my extra-curricular activities in college.
Anyway, I have only known my mother-in-law for 16 years, and can only imagine how many untold hospitality stories she has not shared and those that I am not familiar with. She is the epitome of a hospitable woman.
The first incident I recall is when she, Carolyn and my father-in-law, Charles (just like from Little House on the Prairie) hosted an exchange student from Australia. Ian was a charming young man who came to the states to attend college. Even though Ian lived in the dorm, my in-laws often found him enjoying a respite from dorm life relaxing in their living room in front of their television. They were very good to him and set him up with various friends across the state so he would be able to learn about our state’s rich history.
Then there was the time when she and Mr. Massey were dining in a local restaurant. When they saw a couple about their age that they didn’t know, they engaged in conversation with them. They learned that this couple was traveling via travel trailer across the country. By the end of dinner, my mother-in-law invited them to stay at her house so she could personally show them around the area. They ended up staying three nights.
Can you imagine this couple trying to tell this story to their adult children? It probably went something like this. “We met the most charming couple at Shoney’s in Tifton, Georgia. The introduced themselves at the buffet bar after recognizing that we weren’t from Tifton. They began to talk and we couldn’t get away from them. After we ate our salads, the lady came over and invited us to join them for dinner. We had the most amazing conversation with them. It turns out, they asked us to stay with them at their home.”
“You didn’t, did you, mom?”
“Well, as a matter of fact we did.”
“What? You went to some total strangers’ house and slept there? What if they were serial killers or members of a cult?”
“They weren’t, and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. In fact, we’ve invited them to come see us this fall.”
Hard to believe, isn’t it? You are probably guessing that this incident took place 30 years ago when people didn’t fear someone trying to do something nice. It actually happened eight years ago.
When was the last time you were hospitable to a stranger, a friend or even a relative? Our country has become so polarized that it seems we quickly try to find our differences rather than trying to recognize what our similarities might be. We are quick to judge, hard to understand and jealous of what we don’t have.
Let’s sing the Olive Garden “Hospitaliano” song a few times and start being a little more hospitable. Take it from Carolyn Massey; she knows how to sing the song!
Tricia Massey is a stay-at-home mother, a member of the Commerce Downtown Development Authority and chairman of the Commerce Public Library's capital campaign drive.