About the Author: Lauren (not this Lauren, but this Lauren) is a now a triple Life in Labels guest blogger and probably our favorite Californian ever. She went to high school in Virginia with Lori and Denise, but fled the east coast for Malibu. We especially appreciate her now because she is helping us fulfill our “challenge” by contributing a much needed “x” label to our blog. Lauren, thank you for your kindness and your impressive vocabulary.
Xe•nial - adj \-nēəl, -nyəl\: of, relating to, or constituting hospitality or relations between host and guest and esp. among the ancient Greeks between persons of different cities <xenial relationship> <xenial customs>
I have never been a xenagogue, though I do enjoy overly-informative tours. I own some flannel but have not yet begun my career as a xylopolist. According to Ms. Monroe, gentlemen would not prefer me, as I am not xanthous. I have only a mild case of xylopolist (one who sells wood), but do not battle xenomania; and as I am neither a cacti or camel, I am not xerophytic.* I do however, enjoy those things of a xenial nature.
Xeniality, shall we call it, has to do with hospitality towards guests. I love the connotations of this relating to ancient cultures, because I am reminded of the Odyssey or Aeneid, where entire chapters take place over a banquet- or several days of banquets. The guests arrive, the hosts throw open the palace doors and bring out the snacks, and everyone settles in for a good long round of storytelling.
I am constantly inviting people over- to my condo for dinner, to come have lunch near my office, to the park near my house, and to sleep on my floor as they are passing through. It’s because I really like people. Specifically, I really like peoples’ stories. It is why I really like long meals, and long car trips with friends, and quiet pubs. I consider myself blessed and want to bless others. The best way I know to do this is to let people just be.
I currently only have a couch to offer, so I can’t be as hospitable as I would like to overnight guests. Instead, I often invite people over for meals. There’s jus something about sharing a meal, you know? Picnics, movie nights, game nights, potlucks, I love ‘em.
Last fall, my roommate and I hosted Thanksgiving at our condo. It was the first time to host for either of us, and on this particular morning, I woke up, had some breakfast, and then stuck my hand in the turkey’s neck cavity to pull out its guts and shove in some stuffing. We made pie and friend brought sides. We gathered friends and friends of friends, Thanksgiving orphans all. We ate too much, did Thanksgiving crafts, and played Frisbee in the park. It was lovely. The best part was stopping everything to just be.
If you end up at my house for a gathering, there won’t be a whole lot of “theme-ing”. There probably won’t be streamers or balloons or pennants or fancy centerpieces or a color palette. Jars, fresh flowers, twine, and paper napkins, yes. And good food.
Looking back, I’ve realized I don’t have any pictures to share of these events, because I don’t take any. It’s not my habit so it just doesn’t get done. To me, that’s a great time- when you’re so engrossed by lively conversation and togetherness that you forget to document it.
Having guests, or a being a guest, means sharing stories. Make a resolution to be a little more xenial this week. Share stories. Share life.
Resources for hosting: Kinfolk, a new magazine/blog. I like their style. Simple, wholesome recipes from the author of “Clean Start”. I aspire to eat like this all the time. Also: make pizza with friends. Everyone brings something from their fridge for a topping and someone buys beer. It is acceptable to buy the crust. Trust me, it’s awesome. (Hint: sprinkle the baking sheet with a lot of cornmeal to avoid sticking.)