Greeting the Guests


The other week, relatives visiting from abroad were coming for dinner.  I knew in advance that it wasn’t the best timing on that particular day. I had long ago booked an appointment on the other side of town that same day.  But as I purveyed my week, there was no best day.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to host my visiting relatives.  The only problem was I wasn’t on vacation.  When my guests mentioned how much they would love to see other extended family members at the same time, I had to decline.  My home wasn’t going to easily accommodate another 15 people pleasantly, nor was I up to cooking for this enlarged crowd.  I suggested the visitors make time to see these relatives separately.

Visiting day dawned and I hit my regular Sunday morning pilates class as usual.  I needed the stretching after a long hot Shabbat afternoon in which I didn’t find myself moving around much.  I then attended to the regular Sunday morning duties before going to a shiur by a well-known rabbi in my area.

The current heatwave was burning on but I realized I better pick up some fruit for dessert.  Ice cream was too messy and who needed to eat cake on Sunday night? So fruit it would be.  When I got into my car, the thermostat that had been baking in the sun read 47 degrees Celsius.  I had a short drive to the supermarket before the air conditioner could even start working.  I jumped in, grabbed a box of firm, large, round, green grapes and a sweet-smelling melon.  I ran across the street in the furnace-air to the bookstore to pick up a few needed presents.

I got back to my airless, steamy car for the drive across town to my appointment.  It was one of those appointments that women routinely undergo.  Unpleasant but necessary.  It happened to be the first one I was doing so my discomfort at the unknown was heightened.  In the end all went well.  I didn’t have to wait more than a few minutes and the test, while not a joy could be endured.  It was time to get back home to supervise the vacationing kids and prepare for the guests.

In my well air-conditioned home, I got to work.  I used my go-to chicken recipe for any large crowd.  Fast, easy and tasty.  What more could anyone want? A pot of rice.  A pan of frozen green beans with cut up cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves and frozen basil popped into the oven.  One of my boys cut up a master salad.  Now we would need to run around tidying up the living room, open and set up the table to serve the 14 of us, not including the baby.  Can’t say I wasn’t happy we kept it to a mere 14.

(my little ones help me bake cookies for the guests)

The guests came… almost on time.  To be expected when it’s a large crowd I suppose.  After all the round of hellos, hugs and kisses, we found our places at the table.  The meal was enjoyed on each person’s level.  The schmoozers schmoozed.  The eaters ate and the picky ones disappeared to books or toys.  My own youngest son, age 5, was exhausted from having been up too late the night before.  It was hard to concentrate on getting him to bed with everything going on.

The guests looked happy and were ready to leave.  I even packed up some food for one of their family members who couldn’t join us.  Suddenly one of the young kids decided she was hungry.  I looked on in disbelief.  Her mother caught my look and said, “Don’t worry, she would be happy with some grapes.”  A bag of washed grapes were gently placed in a bag with one more smile and final kiss goodbye.

Visiting day had ended.

+