Treasure Me, Trouble Me

Interconnection.
I love how nature embraces man-made elements.

Miles run today: 10

Words written in novel so far: 19,697 (woo-hoo! Baby steps!)

Blueberry muffins my son made this morning with blueberries we picked: 12

When my husband’s parents left last weekend to head back home to England, his stepmother said, “Thank you so much for making us feel treasured.”

My thoughts?

A.) This is so charming and quaint.

B.) Most everything sounds better with an English accent. Have you noticed that an English voice-over on a TV commercial can (almost) make you think that cleaning toilets is fun?

C.) She also kisses on both cheeks, which, in the 14 1/2 years that my husband and I have been married, I have never mastered. I am afraid I have secretly become known as The Awkward American Wife Who Can’t Double-Kiss.

D.) I realized that that is exactly what I want people to feel when they leave our house: treasured.

When someone captures a concept so perfectly in words, I often puzzle over it and turn it over in my mind for several days afterwards, like a good book or a movie that has an unforgettable defining moment.

Treasured.

My grandmother introduced me to the idea, way back when I was knee-high to a grasshopper. When we went to visit, she would always, always have baked at least four desserts. One time, we counted ten.

She was that excited about our visit. How can you not feel treasured when you show up at someone’s house, and they’ve baked blackberry pie, pound cake, strawberry shortcake, peach cobbler, key lime pie and banana nut bread? For you? Even as ungrateful little kids, my sister and I would hover over our “sampler” platters and try not to drool.

But these days, I find that friends and family are quick to say, “Please don’t go to any trouble” when they are coming to visit. One friend said we could pick up Chick Fil-A so we didn’t concern ourselves with cooking all day.

Sometimes, it’s nice to feel troubled. Sure, there can be stress involved, like when I left cooked spinach with garlic in the oven for four days while we went to the beach because I forgot it was there, and it created the most unholy smell you’ve ever experienced, ever. Do not try this at home, folks. Our oven is only just now recovering from my cooking felony.

The whole visit and our guests over the years remind me of the 10,000 Maniacs song, “Trouble Me.”

Trouble me

Disturb me

With all your cares and your worries

Trouble me

On the days that you feel spent.

I’m always grateful for the friends and family who have helped me over the rough patches. But it occurs to me that “Treasure Me” is the positive, upbeat side of things.

My thoughts:

A.) Why can’t I think of something charming and quaint to say to let people know how much I care about them?

B.) Why does no one use my accent to make toilet cleaning look appealing?

C.) Why can’t I invent something that’s as cool as the Double Cheek Kiss but doesn’t require the same cosmopolitan flair?

D.) I hope everyone who is invited to our home leaves feeling treasured.

What about you? Are you afraid that you cause stress for your hosts? Are you glad to host others?

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20 thoughts on “Treasure Me, Trouble Me

  1. Melissa says:

    I can say that visiting your house does leave one feeling treasured. And I for one greatly appreciate the “trouble” you take to make us feel at home. Hopefully, some time soon, y’all can come visit and we will reciprocate….however, I’m pretty sure the guys will spend most of their time in the garage….and don’t worry, southern accents are charming and don’t require a cosmopolitan flair.

  2. jmmcdowell says:

    Hosting a “doing” is when the house is truly cleaned…. And people think I keep it like that all the time! 🙂 Ah, what they don’t know, right?

    Yes, it’s stressful to do that extra cooking and cleaning, but I love it when people say how wonderful everything was. That makes it worth it. But don’t get me wrong. When people offer to bring something, I accept!

    I grew up hearing what wonderful desserts my paternal grandmother made. But I was the youngest and we didn’t see much of her and my grandfather in my day. So I missed out on all of that. 😦

    • annewoodman says:

      Ah–I was the oldest grandchild… it makes such a difference! One thing I will say, though… I think my grandmother made every grandchild feel treasured.

      And I agree–I clean my house like a fiend… I welcome the chance to host because it means I have to clean. ; ) Otherwise, my family suffers with a horrible, messy house.

  3. char says:

    I stress over houseguests, but love for them to come. I just don’t want to bore them to tears, and about give myself an ulcer making sure I don’t. If I had to do the European kiss on 2 cheeks thing, I’d make you look graceful at it. I’d be the definition of awkward.

    • annewoodman says:

      I’m afraid I’m so worried about them dying in my piles of dust or starving to death that I don’t have time to worry about them being bored. ; ) I guess I’m a bad hostess!

      I do love having guests–it feels like my house is fulfilling its role. And then, sadly, I’m glad to have it back to ourselves… and we put our feet on the ottoman and watch mindless TV at night!

      • char says:

        Amen to that! As good as it feels to have guests…as you say, there is nothing like being home with just the family that belongs there when everyone leaves.

  4. crubin says:

    When family visits and tells me to not “go to any trouble,” it goes in one ear and out the other. How can you not want to entertain them in a pampering way? Yes, it’s work, but as you and other commenters point out, it’s worth it. Fun to see someone take pleasure in our cooking and planning, because goodness knows we don’t hear it from our kids. But mostly just because it always feels good to pamper another. For a few days, that is… 😉

    • annewoodman says:

      It’s so nice to pamper others, and also… I have to admit… I love it when someone cooks for me! I get introduced to all sorts of different recipes that I never cook… and I didn’t have to shop for them or prepare them! Yippee! I hope my guests enjoy that, too.

      • crubin says:

        There is something so wondrous in having someone else cook a meal for you. Probably because for us mothers, it so rarely happens. 🙂

  5. 4amWriter says:

    When my sister was getting her divorce, I said to her “Rob and I want you to stay with us until you can sort things through.” I didn’t realize what I said until she pointed it out to me, That I said ‘want’ instead of saying “would you like” or something similar. She said it made her feel like she really was wanted, and not that I was inviting her out of pity.

    I have never been through the double-kiss, and my father is from England; he moved to America with his mother when he was a kid. Maybe it’s only in certain area of England? Because neither of them did the double-kiss thing. I feel left out now. 🙂

    I’m a big baker, too. One thing I always do is bake something for traveling guests so they have something nice to eat on the plane or the car. If people are visiting me, I send them off at the end of their visit with cookies or brownies. Or, my in-laws, who live nearby, when they go visiting relatives in CA or Portugal or wherever, I make sure to pack a home-baked good for their trip. People love me for this one thing that I do. I am a terrible housecleaner, but my baking makes up for it. 🙂

    • annewoodman says:

      It sounds like you are a wonderful sister. Sometimes I say or do the wrong thing when what I really want is to communicate my caring to my sister.

      Maybe only certain English people do the Double-Kiss? It definitely makes me feel special.. and not as cool as she is!

      I definitely want to visit your house! I love to bake, too. We try to share our baked goods around to friends and neighbors… but I don’t always send people away with something. I agree–my house is not the most pristine… but maybe if I give you a blueberry muffin, you’ll turn a blind eye??

  6. L.S. Engler says:

    I don’t have much of a house to have guests in, and I’m actually pretty far away from anyone but a small knot of friends who visit, but when they come over, our get-together are INTENSE. We always do a snack potluck and the spread is honestly incredibly impressive. And even better? Leftovers!

    Also (and the main reason I wanted to comment, because right now? I am not in an entertaining often headspace), this post just put to mind an image of you teaching your very English mother-in-law an elaborate handshake complete with potential gang signs in lieu of the Awkward Double Cheek Kiss. And I feel your pain. We have a Dutch friend that visits, and they Triple Cheek Kiss…

    • annewoodman says:

      I should try throwing down a gang-style handshake! I don’t know if I have enough street cred to pull it off, but I could try! ; )

      And really, I LOVE potlucks!

  7. robincoyle says:

    I treasure you.

    What a lovely post. I’d like to meet your mother-in-law and grandmother. You had a good role model in your grandmother. There is an art to making people feel welcome in your home. My sister is LOUSY at it. She calls herself a “relaxed hostess.” I call her a lazy one.

    In terms of accents, I an English friend in his mid-twenties who told me his accent is very handy in getting American girls.

  8. My wife and I love to have people come to visit. She cleans and I cook which gives us both ample time with guests. Unfortunately, it happens much less than we would like. We actually moved from Colorado to Minnesota with the idea that being closer to our families would provide more vistations. The visitation result was something less than stellar. The good news is we have been able to go seeand spend more time with our parents as they got older.

    • annewoodman says:

      Being with your parents as they age sounds difficult but rewarding… I am hoping mine move closer to us so I can be helpful.

      We don’t have as many guests as we’d like, either. But we do try to host neighbors and friends for dinner so that we can enjoy their company before they head back home.

  9. Athena Harshberger says:

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