Miss Argo defined Southern hospitality. As she worked next door (to our first home) to renovate her seventh historical property, she was as well-seasoned as the tender fillets she grilled, and understood our first-timer frustrations with great empathy. She didn't just ask how we were in passing; she stopped and asked us to come in and stay awhile, even in the midst of her dusty renovation project. A fresh mojito in a tall glass waited for me, because "ya'll, ladies do get served first in Miss Argo's house." Whiskey with a splash of Coke in a Mason jar followed for Danny, "just like those fine Georgian boys do it." While honeymooning, our beautiful torn-apart kitchen was "pounded" - an old Southern tradition where neighbors would provision the kitchen with pounds of essentials such as flour, salt and sugar. Of course it was Miss Argo, a woman sweet as sweet tea. While we miss her gentle smile, stiff drinks, and jubilant laughter, a big part of her welcoming heart stayed with us.
Every Tuesday, we've decided to be old-fashioned. Local friends, new and old, come to the homestead for dinner and yard games. Because at the end of the day, our house becomes our home and memories are made when it's filled with people.
It's not about what's on the menu or if a small tornado just ripped through my front door and into the heart of the kitchen. I thought the two mattresses temporarily hanging out in our dining room just had to be moved, or covered, or hidden. Push them down the basement stairwell for all I cared. Just make it look good, like I've got it all together - right? Heaven forbid we let someone see how we really live, or who we really are. But in all reality, what had to change was the perfectionistic ideal of how it's all supposed to look. The mattresses never moved and not one person mentioned them.
When we disconnect from our ideals and our phones, it gives us a moment to connect with one another. When we break bread together at the table, that's where genuine conversation happens. It's about living in community and doing life together. It's about choosing hospitality in the midst of chaos, just like Miss Argo.
Dinner with friends at our first home - April 2013. Miss Argo came over the next morning and said, "ya'll had a real fine time with one another last night, didn't ya?" Yes. Yes, we did!
"The focus of entertaining is impressing others; the focus of true hospitality is serving others." Tim Chester, A Meal With Jesus