Last Friday we had another family over for pizza. "You don't have to do that," was my friend's response when I called to invite them. We just wanted to get to know them better, that's all, and we have pizza a lot anyway . . . their son is the same age as Jack, we like the whole family, bla bla bla. In the world I pretend we live in, that's what you do. We had a lovely time. My trusty pizza crust recipe never fails and we put all kindsa stuff on top (homemade pesto was one). We have interesting beers (a Troeg's sampler,in this case, and Brother Adam's Braggot Honey Ale). We talk a lot and the kids are old enought to not need constant, nervous supervision. Life is good on such evenings. Cheaper than a restaurant, especially if you consider the babysitting costs,and so much more social and relaxed. And, for me, anyway, making food for people is life-giving.
Sometimes I hear this little whiny voice in my head saying, "When is someone going to reciprocate?" and I have to say that "reciprocation," the way my mother used to count it, doesn't happen often. But I learned a long time ago that true hospitality is a gift you give without expecting it "back." Or maybe you get it back in other ways, by simple appreciation or good thoughts. People at my church are quite hospitable in this way, and people from other churches I've attended in the past, because, whether liberal or conservative, hospitality is a part of our common value system that transcends politics. It's not about showing off, or "entertaining" in an orgy of perfectionism, but simply about sharing the bounty, being vulnerable and generous to others, and learning to know people more intimately.
Some people in my town belong to a "supper club," which no children attend, and for which each guest makes a gourmet dish that is prescribed by the host. It's four times a year and it sounds interesting, but also very high-pressure and a little scary. You probably need to devote some thought to your wardrobe and clean your house top to bottom and get a professionally made centerpiece? I don't know, because even though several people have told us about this supper club, we haven't been invited to the damn thing. Screw them.