Surprise Dinner Guests
by Terri Bonin
The beans boil onto the stovetop, drip…drip…dripping to the floor. Chopped vegetables tumble off the cutting board and sprawl across the countertop in front of my disheveled teen chef. Twenty-six bowls, 7 measuring cups, and 5 stirring spoons lay strewn on the kitchen counter. Company is coming for dinner!
And they are due to knock on the door in T minus 90 minutes.
The dining table resembles a hurricane aftermath with papers, books, and cups acting as a table cover. Surrounded by the remnants of a harried homeschooling day, I calculate the tasks at hand. We can do this.
I love a challenge as much as I enjoy pampering friends. The combination energizes me, and boy did a challenge appear this afternoon. On this particular evening, the invited guests would think it fun to surprise us by…
showing up an hour early!
Friends we had not seen in months.
Friends’ familiar enough to welcome into our mess, BUT loved so much that I wanted to delight them with a sparkling home and the savory aroma of dinner when they entered our abode.
Presentation is a love language I speak.
In my opinion, preparing for an evening with others in our home is part of the enjoyment of having people over. So before guests arrive, our house resembles a bees nest swarming with worker bees, picking up, putting away, cooking, cleaning, working side by side… hopefully laughing and talking; sometimes fussing and prodding…
Putting to practical use the rails of discipline this mom sweats over daily.
My sweet husband, the same husband of 24 years, the one that I still do my lips for each evening and who understands how much I LOVE giving the gift of PRETTY, had to gently break the news to me…
“Sweetheart, I have good news and bad news. Which do you want first?”
“OK: The good news is: tonight’s going to be fun. The bad news is: that it’s not going to be like you imagined. They’re almost here.”
He ventures to tell me that our guests called him and would be arriving an hour early in order to take a tour. A tour? This is the kind of house you stand in one place and turn a slow circle for a complete tour.
Not-so-nice words spill out of my mouth as frustration falls heavy on my shoulders, and my mind reaches for anything I read during my last quiet time. Something to make me nice, loving, and godly.
Words from one of Ann Voskamp’s posts whispered in my thoughts, “Cleanliness is NOT next to godliness, love is…”
She’s right. (She’s typically always right.)
We open our homes because we love people. We clean it because we love people. We wipe counters, light non-toxic candles, and prepare delicious food because we love people. If everything else falls apart…we still love people.
We can sit around school papers, suck down burned soup and lean our elbows on sticky countertops. These details are fluff around the ones we love.
Thankfully on this evening dinner worked out as I had dreamed. It’s amazing what an army of kids can accomplish in half an hour. But I was tested as life tends to do.
Time is passing like the sands in an hourglass and there is NO DOUBT that these are the best days of life, mess and all. I venture to say, because of the mess and all, these are the best days of life. I adore the people we invite into our home more than I adore my dream of a house diffusing sweet-smelling essential oils and sparkling clean before they arrive… And it’s a good thing since our friends thought it would be fun to arrive at our home an hour earlier than the scheduled dinner date. I guess that’s what friends are for.
I’ll get ‘em back… LOL!