Hospitality comes in all forms, sometimes simple and warm, other

times it is elaborate and luxurious. There are times in our lives,

each one has its ‘benefits’ and comforts, too.


My ex-sister in law, Linda, was such a special woman. She was so

kind and thoughtful. We had her up a few times for holidays, but

as she had invited us numerous times, we felt compelled to go her

direction- to Roanoke, Virginia. We were excited since we had at

the time six children, three of his and three of mine. Yet, we were

given a ‘vacation reprieve,’ while my parents were taking my two

girls and a boy, his other sister and her husband, were taking his

two boys and a girl. They were both heading in different directions

with the children, one to the far western part of Ohio for my parents

to where their ‘home camp site’ part of the Good Sam camping club,

and the other three were heading to a farm out by Johnstown, Ohio.

They were going to help pitch in with pigs and also, dunk in a spring

fed pond to wash the smell and dirt off, enjoying ‘country living.’


Linda had sent me a questionnaire; really!  Smiling right now at her

sweet questions, asking me to rate some of her favorite and practiced

dishes, letting her know which ones I would like her to prepare for

our meals. This way, she had thoughtfully and carefully planned all

the meals and had competed her shopping, too. Mike told me he loved

ALL of her home cooking, so not to worry about checking back with

him. She also asked in this fun and interesting quiz, what activities I

liked, what treats I enjoyed snacking on and other hospitable questions.


Upon our arrival, we found a lovely fruit basket in her guest room. It

had (at the time, I felt this way) ‘exotic’ fruits like starfruit and kiwi,

along with apples, pears and tangerines. I had told her I didn’t like

bananas, unless they are greenish, never any brown spots on them.

So, Mike who loved his bananas ripened, no such luck for him!


We had brought her a stone carved into an angel for her garden.

Linda was so thrilled and we felt we could not have brought her

a better gift. This is how a generous and caring hostess greets her

guests and makes them feel so welcome.


On our pillows, I had three Lindt dark chocolate balls. No, at this

time I had never tried them, but when asked which candy I liked in

my Easter basket (yes, this was a true question!) Linda found out I

liked the white chocolate bunnies, the dark chocolate covered coconut

eggs, and the milk chocolate maple eggs. I would switch with my two

brothers until I had the combination I enjoyed most.  (The second

night she put a Heath bar on my pillow and on and on, until we left

after a four day visit. Back to the plain old house, with the bustling

children there. Shoot!)


When we went into her newly furnished bathroom, she had placed

the exact color of towels she had seen in our own bathroom. I had

‘assigned’ Mike an olive green and I had lilac or lavender colored

towels at our house together. I had always felt if I ever had more

than one bathroom, I would decorate with a basket of violets and

those colors. Linda had bought a large bath towel, hand towel and

two wash cloths, in the colors from home.


As you can guess, we had delicious meals, went to many scenic

places, along with a beautiful mansion to eat our dinner at. It was

set off the road, quite a step back in history to the elegant antebellum

period of time. This is the period between the 1812 war and the Civil

war. I like to think of “Gone with the Wind,” when I reminisce about

this lovely place. The meal was delectable, with our being able to

choose one, two or three meats for our meal. My ex, Mike, being tall

and lanky, able to eat as much as he wanted order the three meats’

meal. Linda ordered pork and I ordered chicken. The other meat

was beef.  We had dressed up, full of expectation, which we were not

disappointed in this at all.


When I was growing up, my Grandmother Mattson, liked to make

desserts. Her German heritage helped to prepare yummy breakfasts.

We would usually have a simple meat, vegetable and sometimes a

bread or potato. My Grandfather had changed her into a Swedish

chef, for meals and a gourmet streusel, rum balls, Black Forest cherry

cake or German chocolate cake would be our reward for eating a

well prepared meal, but healthy for our lives. We still don’t prepare

our daily meals with many complicated recipes or sauces.


When we would arrive, my Grandmother would be given a gift,

my Mom called it her “hostess gift.” She emphasized respect, love

and never arriving at someone’s house, ’empty handed.’ Often, the

gift was flowers. Sometimes, it was a bouquet, often it was a potted

plant of lilies, tulips, or daffodils in the Spring, burgundy or golden

mums, if it were Autumn. Late summer, my Mom liked to pick out

sunflowers, along with asters. Sometimes, these could be found at

roadside tables, along the country back roads from Cleveland to the

town of Middletown, Ohio.


Mom often would give my Grandma a pretty tea towel, candy and

if she had baked cookies, those were stored in a tin for them to open

after we left. Once, my brothers got into that tin and boy! Did they

ever get in trouble!


When my parents retired the hospitality became less structured, it

was now Lake Erie casual dining experiences, find your beach towels

on the fence or in the linen closet. When they moved from the suburbs,

the antiques got shipped to an auction house, barely any were saved.

I was asked, but I had decided on Early American or Colonial period

having been raised in a Victorian style home, I was anxious to choose

a different way of decorating. Sometimes, I do wish I had saved some

of the special pieces, but then when I moved to my little apartment,

it would have been bittersweet parting at such a late date from them.


When we were on our way to my parents, we would use our landline

phone to call theirs. “Leaving now, see you in about 3 hours.” We were

not ones to carry on much conversation. Even now, when I call my Mom,

she immediately asks, “Is everything all right, Robin?” or “Are you okay,

dear?” (This works for all of us, since she and Dad named us all with “R”

in the beginning, it is quite a silly thing to hear her go through the names,

including my Dad’s, too.)


Upon leaving the last highway and getting onto Baumhart Road, our

labrador retriever mutt, Toby, would howl.  He knew the lake was out

there, wanted the window open to snort and sniff. He would walk on

top of people to get to the window, but usually even in the dead of

winter, we would ‘humor’ the good ol’ boy.


If it were Summer, my Dad would hear us honk about three times, as

we passed the Showse Park beach area. He would get up off his lounge

chair, go to the back of the house, grab these spongy things called,

“noodles” and usually for fun, had a Life Preserver over his shoulder.

This man was so ecstatic to have company, more than you would ever

know if you had been his friend at work or in the church we went to.


Dad would have either croquet set up or the net for badminton or

volleyball. If anyone mentioned a different preference, Dad was on

top of this, so excited to be able to play with the kids. You may have

read awhile back, my Dad gave up his childhood play time pursuits

at age 11, to start working to help pay rent and take care of his own

mother. His father had been in the war, was in Cincinnati Veteran’s

Hospital.  Being retired was like Heaven at the end of years of being

‘on top of things.’


The formal ‘bar’ my Dad had had, with all kinds of liquor, the “Old

Mr. Boston’s” book of bartender’s recipes and the side dishes of olives,

onions, cherries and orange slices were gone. The Beach retirement

life style meant you could grab a beer, pop, water or wine cooler from

the three full bags of iced up beverages in the huge coolers kept under

the picnic tables on the carport.


Food was sandwiches, available 24/7, with various delicatessen meats,

cheeses and condiments in the drawer of the refrigerator. If anyone

showed up who wished to get a frozen lemonade and make it in a

pitcher or stayed a few days and wished to make some Sun Tea,

all the ‘fixings’ were here. There were steaks, chops, salmon and

hamburgers in the freezer. If my brothers wanted to take the time

to fire up the gas grill and prepare them, all of us were overjoyed.

Otherwise, Mom and I would make potato and macaroni salad in

the early cool hours of the morning and were quite content with

nibbling on snacks, cookies and an occasional piece of meat or



Relaxed dress code, shirt optional.

Wow, this was the simple and warm hospitality I had mentioned

in that first paragraph.


Please share some of your favorite places you have gone, where

hospitality was special to you. Oh, since I didn’t cover the whole

gamut of Southern Hospitality, please pitch in with some details!




27 responses »

  1. Coming from the South, My parents born up in Michigan, we took plenty of two-day rides to visit relatives on both sides as we were growing up. Grandma’s house was large and in charge. Had a lot of steps and smelled quite funny. I could not however, figure out that when she would come visit us that it would only take half of a day, as a child. The child’s mind unable to decipher that riding in an airplane takes far less time than packing up a family of six in a station wagon and hitting the highway.

    • I used to ride in a station wagon full of pillows and two brothers. We would travel at night, while my Dad and Mom drank coffee and stopped for apple pies at McD’s. I like that you shared your parents were born in Michigan. Also, about your Grandma’s house. I bet the times were special and glad you also included how a child’s mind differs in perspective, once time goes by. Thanks for this great addition to my post!

  2. Over my 57 years, my friend Robin, I have been fortunate enough to have been welcomed to the homes of many of my dearest friends in my life. They have all treated me like a king, pulling out all the stops at that particular moment of our lives, guest rooms or couches or rugs on the floor of the spare room. A pillow for my head, a meal in my belly, beer in the mix, great conversation in the air. That’s all I need.

    • I really enjoyed this summary of welcomes given to you and such a wide variety of hospitality, too. Mark, you are such a friendly man, one who would be deserving of being treated like a King. I am laughing at the spectrum of accommodations offered, too. This got me to chuckling, Mark. Thanks for the smiles and this is all I would ‘require,’ and would fill me with a sense of “Home.”

  3. Florence and I have not only been treated special as guests during our time in Latin America, Spain and Croatia, but we also were frequently the beneficiaries of the kindness of strangers. There is nothing quite like being in a foreign country where English is not the primary language and having a total stranger greet you and take care of you like a relative or a long lost friend.

    This summer we get to host a couple we met during our time living in Boquete, Panama. We have stayed in touch over the past couple of years, and they will traveling around the U.S. by motorhome. I love sharing my knowledge and pride in my home state of Washington, so we will play host and tour guide for over a week. We can hardly wait!

    It is nice to be on the receiving end of hospitality, but we also enjoy being good hosts. Florence had good training growing up in a large Italian family with lots of relatives around. Who knows? Maybe one of these days we will get to host you, too! That would be fun. 🙂 – Mike

    • I agree the world is a wonderful place, most people wish to share their meals, their lives and are generous beyond expectations, Mike. The way you described it here, only gives a small glimpse of the numbers of friends you met and I always enjoyed reading about yours and Florence’s adventures in foreign countries.
      I am excited for you to host those people who you met in Panama, Mike! How wonderful to return the favors and show the wonders of Washington state. It is truly a beautiful part of our country, no doubt about it! I also believe Florence’s Italian family had wonderful hospitality and delicious meals prepared for their guests. I would like to know customs and particular details which highlight each person who comments. I enjoyed this summary immensely. Mike.Thank you very much.

  4. We often visit my aunt and uncle. She keeps our favorite foods on file, alone with a file of “what not to fix” list. 🙂 She cooks and cleans and refuses to let us help. Though over the years I have worn her down to letting me carry dishes to the dishwasher (seriously….this is a hard fought battle!). Every trip we make we go somewhere to see something. Other people may not enjoy it but my husband and I and my aunt and uncle have an incredible time laughing about the people laughing at us wondering why we enjoy such things. We’ve read a book by a local author and then created a local tour to see the places in the book he spoke of. We’ve gone to eat at very old and established restaurants, to little hotdog stands no one else would know about to the original hamburger creator (THE original). We explore the part of the world we’re in….and spend an awful lot of time talking and just …..being. It’s perfect.

    • I am so moved by this special treat you shared with us: your aunt and uncle sound precious beyond words. I love how you also gave us the details of your being welcomed so generously. I enjoyed reading about how there is a ‘battle’ to even help put dishes in the dishwasher, Colleen. This is a true host and hostess, who wish to wait and pamper you. I also treasured the stories of where you travel to, what you have found and how you all laugh a lot. The book sounds great.
      I have a good friend who shared a book about Savannah, which would be nice to check out the streets and places mentioned in the book….
      Okay, maybe not here if you don’t want to share… but maybe on your own post, sometime you will tell us, Where is THE original hamburger and its creator?
      Being with your aunt, uncle and husband all does sound perfect, Colleen. Like when your sweet, adorable granddaughter, I believe, piped up, something like this: “Today was a special day.”

      • 🙂 I don’t mind sharing here Robin. Here is where we shared the original hamburger:
        And I will say, it was pretty darn tasty.

        I do love the hosting my aunt and uncle show us. It is like no other. They treat us special, which is probably why they can’t get rid of us. 😉

      • It is nice to have close ties with someone a generation older. I write my Mom’s sister once a month and enjoy it when she shares the parts of their family life, which my cousins may not always have time to fill me in on. I also love my aunt and uncle who have been always great at being part of our lives. I am sure you are a blessing to them, as much as they are to you, Colleen!
        I am so glad you let me (and fellow bloggers) in on the original hamburger and hope to someday travel and have one there! Smiles!

      • I can’t even think of this aunt and uncle as an older generation Robin. Holy moly, they are more active then TEN of us!!! 😉 They keep us hopping! 🙂 You’ll have to let me know if you try the original hamburger. There is something about coffee and their hamburgers….

      • I appreciate your sharing, this is the best thing about this whole adventure that I got to read about fantastic, active people who are wonderful and warm to you and yours, then now where I can get a hamburger which is an original! I like the fact your aunt and uncle keep you and the husband hopping, Colleen!

    • I am one who has enough guilt in my mind, so feel bad about passing it on to you. Your sister could have flown to visit you and rented a car, but maybe next time she comes, you will go get her, one never knows… Smiles for your replying, thanks so much!

  5. Robin, I would be overjoyed to relate such an experience of being hosted by others in this manner! Southern Hospitality is something I’ve never experienced, but it sounds beyond delightful.

    I do remember staying in a grand castle in Scotland, feather bed and lovely garden courtyard, to boot. I was traveling with a diplomat’s daughter who was a new friend, yet she and our two other female hosts – also diplomat’s daughters – did nothing to make my stay more comfortable than the lodging itself provided. We were all in our early ‘twenties, and they were trying so hard to be stylish American visitors, which I, in my clean jeans and flannel shirt, was clearly Not attempting to match. Perhaps this was simply the difference between DC east coast breeding and the northern New England country bumpkin I appeared to be, I don’t know. At times I felt quite uncomfortable, and was determined from that point forward to never treat my own visitors with such disdain.

    Many years later, I found myself running a guest house in Hawaii -giving far too much and charging far too little. Those halcyon days for guests ended with the sale of that home two years ago, yet I still enjoyed providing luxury at an affordable rate for others. Perhaps one day I will have that opportunity, once again! Aloha.

    • I think you would be a wonderful hostess, Bela. You have a generous heart and it shows in your writing. I am so glad you shared your experiences at the grand castle in Scotland. This sounds lovely and although you did not feel they extended much hospitality towards you, it was nice to have been included with diplomat’s daughters.
      I enjoyed hearing about your Hawaiian guest house, Bela. I bet you were so sweet and caring towards everyone. It would be hard to stay on a budget, when you wished to be extending courtesies and luxuries beyond what could be afforded. I think bed and breakfast places are really nice to go to, instead of hotels and motels. The people who open their homes, I have met a few, have always gone beyond what I had expected. Don’t worry, I think of karma/kharma when I think of those who were a little bit ‘haughty’ or disdainful of you. They will someday be treated this way, which may make them realize how it feels. (I know you would not have wished for this, but I tend to think of karma a lot, when things go ‘wrong!’) Smiles and hugs for your sharing all of this today. Thank you, Bela.

      • Yes, Robin – I didn’t wish them ill, yet in retrospect, I’d imagine their lives didn’t turn out exactly how they expected. Perhaps they married into society as exected, and heaven knows, I’d prefer my path over that any day. They were like Cinderella’s two stepsisters, as well – not beauties by my definition which includes something that shines through the eyes and heart. And so bitter for ones so young. But we were all just kids really, and I hope life treated them better than they perhaps deserved 🙂 Thanks for your sweet, thoughtful reply. Not sure how we ‘met,’ but I’m so glad to have you in my WP network!

      • Thanks so much for your extra clarification about these companions on a trip, which really were just that. Friends would have been warmer and kinder. I like the comparison to Cinderella’s stepsisters. I do hope they learned how important compassion and kindness goes a long way in life. I hope they did ‘improve’ with age. Ha ha! Thank you also for being glad we are connected… smiles!

  6. Robin, that is what you call hospitality! Wow! I have never had anybody go to that kind of trouble! I think it might make me nervous, as if I had to be on my best behavior as a guest LOL. Did your grandmother ever make zimt kuchen? I still haven’t found anybody else whose grandmother made the cinnamon coffee cake that my German grandmother made . . . .

    • She would call it “kuchen,” which usually was quite delicious. My Mom made a pound cake, with streusel made of pecans, cinnamon and butter mixed together, which she swirled into it, making it a rich and delicious breakfast treat. Mom claims she was not taught how to make the German recipes. I am not sure if my Grandma Mattson’s kuchen is like what you wished for. I am sure there are a lot of choices in recipes….sorry about my vagueness.
      Thanks for admiring Linda’s hospitality. I wasn’t nervous, just felt guilty for eating all the delicious treats and meals, feeling like I had ‘dictated’ them! I would not be a good Queen nor one who ruled over others, Luanne! Smiles!

      • Grandma’s zimt kuchen was flat, like pizza, then she would sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar. She made thumbprints in the dough that was very yeasty. She also made this with plum slices or peach slices.

  7. Robin, she gave you a questionnaire – wow! I am impressed and so charming that is too. I enjoyed wonderful hospitality when I went to a friend’s home in which the East Indian culture met me in full style. I was treated to real Chai tea and urged to eat the homemade snacks made for the visit shortly after I watched them emerge from the oven. Ah, it was such a delight! I could tell they wouldn’t have had it any other way. I really enjoy your posts, by the way 🙂

    • Christy, this was fun finding out I may have been the only one on the planet given a written questionnaire, in expectation of my ex-SIL’s preparations. I felt guilty, for some reason, giving my favorite choices. I would not be a good boss or one who dictates choices. I felt genuinely loved and pampered.
      Your visit in a friend’s home with the special culture you mentioned, sounds wonderful, Christy. I bet you felt cherished and such a great idea, giving freshly baked treats, warm from the oven. I was going to ask you, did they have any ‘bubble’ chai tea? I wrote about this new fad or custom, where the pearl tapioca makes it called, ‘bubble.’ I had this only once and it was delicious, like when you order a milkshake, you have to chew the additions to it. I have developed a fancy for our local Steak and Shake’s “Salty Caramel Pretzel” shakes. The pearls in the bubble tea are delicious and sweet. It is a creamy tea… Thanks for your compliment on my blog. I like to think of you as one of my “long lost daughters.” (I have two daughters, ages 29 and almost 35, a son who is 33. When a younger read drops by, sometimes if I really like them… well, you are only my second time of doing this… I call Margaret my other daughter. She is expecting twins. Her blog is called, verybangled, I think.) Smiles!

      • Awww you are so sweet. I adore your comments! I have had bubble tea yes and it was interesting with the pearls that go up the straws – it took me a while to get used to it that day (I only had it once). I prefer regular teas and, indeed, the chai tea was wonderful in the family home that day.
        So nice that you consider me like a long lost daughter. I am 36 so I would fit right in!! And how exciting that your other ‘daughter’ Margaret is expecting twins – wowow!
        Hugs to you for your day!!

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