Aunt Berthie


When you get married, you not only marry your wife or your husband, but you are also grafted into each other’s family, and their traditions. One of Patty’s family’s Memorial Day traditions was to visit the various small town cemeteries where loved ones were buried to place flowers on their graves. The tradition also included a stop at Great Aunt Berthie’s.

I thought this tradition, while quaint, was a distraction from more leisurely pursuits for a day off, but my father-in-law reassured me. “Aunt Berthie can really cook, Glenn!”

In that day, and in that region of the Midwest, people, especially family, would just drop in on each other, and maybe wind up spending the rest of the day together. It sounds so intrusive now, but long, long ago before the Internet, and people feeling the need to jam pack every minute of their life full of activities, it somehow worked.

Aunt Berthie could fix one heck of country meal with only an inkling that people might be coming by. She was a cheerful, welcoming hugger, much like a couple other wonderful aunts. She would bake a pie, just so she had something to offer people, just in case someone dropped by. Really. Her home was old, simple, spotless, and welcoming, but, certainly, nothing fancy. I always felt comfortable there.

She had perfected the art of hospitality.

Hospitality is very different than entertaining. Entertaining is planned, programmed, and designed to impress. Hospitality is the result of a loving, welcoming, accepting heart. It does not depend upon activities or a beautiful home.

Even though Aunt Berthie baked pies and had a spotlessly clean home, I can think of another favorite aunt and uncle whose home was dated and cluttered, but every bit as welcoming. They were always ready to brew a pot of coffee and invite you to pull up a chair at the kitchen table.

Planning and arrangements produce entertaining. Hearts produce hospitality.

Yes, hospitality is a lost art. Because people keep themselves too busy, set their expectations too high, worry about having everything just right, and are just too wrapped up in their own little world.

Hospitality is simply helping people to feel comfortable. It is being like Jesus in practical ways, by loving, being inclusive, accepting, and setting people at ease.

It is love that touches people deeply, and hospitality is a way of loving people. That makes this simple custom a very powerful act.

Let’s bring back the open door, the ready coffee pot, and the welcoming heart.

And pie.

Photo Credit: Julie. Creative Commons.

This post is was originally published on June 22, 2015 and was a part of the June synchroblog, “Hospitality.”  Here are the other writers’ contributions:

About Glenn

Glenn Hager is a blogger, former newspaper columnist, and author of two books, An Irreligious Faith and Free Range Faith.
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  1. I needed that! We grow up with true hospitality. My mother was the epitome of this gift. I especially appreciated the part about having to high of expectations. It is not the having everything perfect, but simple the sharing of your home. Thank you for reminding me the simplicity of hospitality of Christ!

    • Marcia, Your Mom was the most gracious person I have ever known. I could have easily written this post about her. You were blessed with awesome parents!

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