Our house overlooks a field, which sits next to a row of trees, behind which – a few short miles away – is one of the many public parks in our town. It’s the park where all the high school football games are played, where the only public pool can be found, and where the annual 4th of July fireworks are held. It’s from our back deck that we have the best view of those fireworks – far enough away to buffer the booms and cracks from little ears but close enough to inspire delighted awe in the eyes of some very sleepy toddlers.
When I emailed our usual group to see if they wanted to join us again for a BBQ, I felt a little nudge to expand the circle. Uncomplicated. Just a few more email addresses to let a few more friends know we’d have a spot for them and food if they wanted to join us. When someone asked what they could bring, I ran down the list of what I knew we would have: brisket and pulled pork that my husband would carefully tend all day on the smoker, hotdogs for the kids, baked beans, pasta salad, desserts, fruit – the list was endless. And when they asked how many to plan for? Well. I hadn’t taken the time to do a headcount yet.
More than 20.
I was a little shocked. As I emailed I simply went down the list of family and friends, people God put on my heart and others I knew we’d just love to see and spend time with. There was no agenda. No plan. Just an invitation to join us – and they did. And it was our little “loaves & fishes” story, with more than enough food, enough chairs, enough room on the new patio – freshly finished just days earlier. The kids all played together, tracking dirt and water and more than little lemonade into the playroom, or up onto the swingset.
We laughed over motherhood and the fact that we could all sing ALL of the Disney Junior theme songs. We shared food and memories and friends started to feel like family as we banded together to get just one more hour out of our more-than-ready-for-bedtime toddlers. It was a night full of glowsticks and fireflies.
It was uncomplicated. We invited. They came. We spent time together on a chilly July evening, phones tucked into bags, long forgotten inside while we chatted outside. There were meltdowns and boo-boos, spills and dirt. A broken refrigerator topped off the event. But those are the things the best memories are made of – and as we spent the next morning picking up, cleaning up, wiping up, we laughed and remembered.
And I realized..this hospitality thing? I think we might just be figuring it out.