Wednesday, May 5, 2010

hospitality lived out...

I've been thinking about hospitality these past days...and discussing the meaning of the word with a few friends. We agreed that hospitality is not entertaining or impressing our is about blessing them. It is all about making people feel welcome, accepted and comfortable in your home. I had many good role models...when it came to showing hospitality. My mother always had a spot at the table for one more...and and extra bedroom for anyone passing through. And if they had no home to go to for Christmas...or Easter...or Thanksgiving...they were always welcome at hers!

I then I got to thinking about two of her older aunts...who were also so good at making others feel welcome in their home.

My Aunt Mary and Aunt Anna are the two girls in the centre of the picture...having a tea party with all their cousins in 1926. The family lived in Neu-Schoensee, Ukraine and life as they knew it...including tea parties with cousins...was soon to come to an end. That same year my mother was born...and several years later the family fled Russia...leaving most all their possessions behind.

Fast forward some three decades...and I was a child who lived for Friday night visits to the home of my cousins. My aunts had a way of making us all feel special at their place. Aunt Mary...famous for her sponge cakes and hugs all around...managed to accommodate crowds in the little house on their farm. At Aunt Anna's we rode the pony...went for a swim...and had coconut macaroons.

The years flew by...and before she had a chance to get old...Aunt Mary was gone. In year 2000 my mom passed away very suddenly...and after that I went to visit my Aunt Anna as often as possible. She had stories...some I had never heard. She was hospitable to the end...wanting her visitors to feel welcome. The last time I visited her...she told me about the family heirloom...the only item of value that came with them out of Russia. It was a samovar... ornate tea urn and the symbol of Russian hospitality. She was wondering if I could bring it to her room at the care home...she would like to have it there.

(Aunt Anna with my sister and I ~ 2005)

Soon after that visit...Aunt Anna had her final tea party on earth...and went on to her eternal reward.

I don't think I ever thanked my aunts for the hospitality they showed...or the good role models they were. Today I know I was most blessed to have Aunt Mary and Aunt Anna...two wonderful my life.


  1. Judy. . .I enjoyed this post and as it often does. .it gave me pause for reflection of the aunts that also made me feel welcome.
    I still have a very special aunt that is always willing to lend me her ear. .
    The picuture is so special. The collars the girls are wearing. . so pretty.

  2. Thanks! to you for telling the story and to Aunt Mary (with whom I shared a birthday) and to Aunt Ann. I sure miss those coconut macaroons... and swimming in the big ditch... and monopolizing the bathroom with my cousins just so we could giggle all afternoon... and in later years the much-appreciated letters that I'd have to read aloud because only by hearing and seeing would my rusty German allow me to understand what Aunt Mary was writing. How I admired these two special, laughing ladies! (even though we didn't always appreciate the hugs and kisses!)

  3. So many good memories from the past..I once heard that it's fun to revisit them, but not to despair that things have changed...rather continue to reach out and be that aunt to some of your younger nieces and nephews. Gives me something to think about...
    I love those old photos...
    Hope all is well at your house today.

  4. Oh those are wonderful pictures, and a beautiful tribute to the women in your life who have handed down such a rich tradition of hospitality.

    I can't help but look back and realize I had the same kind of women in my life leading by such great examples of hospitality.

    It always amazes me how much is caught not taught by example :)

    Great memories, great story.

  5. Thank you Judy for this lovely piece of history, an amazing story. So many of our ancestors had tough lives but made the most of all they had. That family photo is lovely...what sweet little children!

  6. I love that old picture .. . everyone dressed up in their best! Thanks for these thoughts this morning... looking back and what we can learn from our past.

  7. Wow. What a heritage collection both in stories and pictures. I feel like you have given me a special visit just by what you have shared here today.

  8. Judy thanks so much for your wonderful thoughts about Mom and Aunt Ann. I have never seen that old photo-its beautiful. Thanks as well for dropping in last year-so good to see you both.all the best to you and yours Dan Wall

  9. What an important post this is and a great reminder to everyone of us. Opening one's heart and home to anyone is so much a part of what our lives should be. These dear aunts of yours left a true legacy for the rest of your family. Hospitality begins in the heart, and shows itself upon entering one's front door. The hardship that they endured did not change their spirit. What a legacy, and what a challenge for me to remember.

  10. i appreciated this post judy.
    if i think about the homes of my childhood, whether it be in the homes of grandparents of didn't matter that the colors of the pillows on the couch clashed or that they didn't have beautiful matching dishes, i didn't care.
    what i do remember is how loved i felt and that my grandparents icky town water made the best k o o l-aid, and all the family get gatherings.
    that my parents friends were always aunt and uncle to us and we knew no different.
    thank you for sharing this.
    may i carry on the tradition, and may my children always do the same.

  11. What a touching story and a sweet tribute to your mom and aunts. Sometimes, I think hospitality is a dying art. But since I started blogging in March, I have been encouraged to see that there are still women out there with the gift of hospitality... and it is a gift... from our Heavenly Father, the giver of all good gifts!

  12. Hi Judy - I read this on the ferry on my way over to work in Abbotsford, but couldn`t comment, as much as I wanted to.
    What a special post. Our heritage, whatever it may be, is a treasure. The recipes, the pictures, the memories, but especially the traditions such as hospitality - those are our real inheritance from those brave ones who left everything behind and came with open hearts and minds to a new world.

  13. Such a beautiful heritage! That sweet little photo of the children at tea...what a blessing to have that, too. Loved this description of hospitality and the examples you shared of those who have led the way. I've always wanted to be naturally hospitable. Alas, I am not. But I can practice!


'The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.'
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson