The lost art of hospitality

 I've been thinking a lot about how our social lives will change when I am no longer working full time.  So much of my social interaction takes place at work; I rarely go out, I prefer one-on-one or small group interaction, and being on second shift makes it difficult to coordinate with others.  And while I consider myself a homebody, I know that I will miss interacting with some of my co-workers on a regular basis.  Right now, any need for additional socializing is met by meeting a friend or family for a meal at a restaurant.  But that just won't be possible as often on a single income.  Which got me thinking...

Why don't people have others over for dinner anymore?  Maybe it's just the folks that I tend to interact with, but it seems that we rarely open our homes to others, even the people we are closest to.  Although we have my mom and my in-laws over for dinner at holidays or birthday celebrations, and we usually have a big cook-out in the summer, we've never invited friends to just come over to have dinner.  
Why not?  I thought I'd be able to cone up with a lot of reasons not to have people over, as it seems to be somewhat anxiety-producing for a lot of people.  But what it really boils down to is that my house isn't as organized as I wish it was.  And every single person I know has the same thoughts about their house.  But would a dinner experience be ruined if there were a few odds and ends out of place?  When you go to someone's house, do you care if they still have a Christmas wreath up in March?  As long as it is reasonably clean, the food is edible, and your host/hostess is welcoming, does anything else really matter?

I want our home to be a gathering place for family and friends.  I want my children to grow up knowing how to treat guests properly.  I want to be able to socialize without having to go somewhere, do something, or spend money.  I don't want to use my house just as a place to sleep. 

And so, this year, I'm going to open my home.  In spite of its imperfections, its clutter, and my own anxieties, I'm going to try to have someone (besides family) over for dinner once every other month.  I'm hoping that it will increase my satisfaction with my house, and help me to build stronger relationships with my friends that aren't dependent on my workplace.  And maybe it'll even save me a bit of money and help me to keep on-track organizing and simplifying my home.