I’m very excited and humbled to have this opportunity to write for TableThink, and more specifically, the column, Your Tribe. Besides my relationship with Jesus, My Tribe is the most important part of my life. I am a daughter, a sister, a mother, a nanna, an aunt, a friend and a mentor.
My Tribe has grown through the years beginning with the addition of my little sister to our family, already comprised of my twin brother and me, our older brother, and our dad and mom. I was the first to get married but within four years My Tribe had expanded to include my father-in-law and mother-in-law, three sisters-in-law and two brothers-in-law and our first child had been born.
By 2015, My Tribe consisted of my husband, our three adult kids and their spouses, and ten grandchildren, four nephews, five nieces, twelve grandnephews and two grandnieces. Along the journey from childhood to adulthood My Tribe also expanded outside the bonds of family to include friendships.
Your Tribe doesn’t have to be limited; it can be ever expanding.
I feel incredibly blessed for My Tribe. They have impacted my life in more ways than I can count. I have learned from them, grown as a person because of their influence, and hopefully I have added to their lives as well.
In this column, I hope to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years that have made my relationship with My Tribe rich and most rewarding.
Entertaining. Hospitality. Party.
Maybe you took part in one of these during the recent holidays. My husband and I did. We went to neighbors and had a most delightful dinner just the four of us. We went to long time friends for dinner with them and two other couples. We rang in the New Year at a big party with I don’t know how many guests. At all three gatherings we had a wonderful time and the hosts made us feel welcomed and comfortable. I can tell you right now that I’m comfortable having up to three couples over for dinner but the big party thing is just not in my wheelhouse. I could do it, but I wouldn’t feel totally confident.
Anyway, back to those words I started with. What do they actually mean?
1 – to hold the attention of pleasantly or agreeably.
2 – to have as a guest; provide food, lodging etc., for; show hospitality to.
1 – the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers.
2 – the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.
1 – a social gathering, as of invited guests at a private home, for conversation, refreshments, entertainment, etc.
2 – a group gathered for a special purpose or task.
Without knowing the real meaning, these words to many of us, are intimidating. I would have to say that the definition I most connect with is that of hospitality. Both entertaining and party take on a huge picture in my mind of “putting on” for the invited guests. Hospitality, on the other hand, for me can happen anywhere at anytime. It is a “friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers” and the “quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.” It is most probable that those who entertain and give parties also demonstrate the quality of hospitality.
I have been married for 48 years (March 21, 2019), have 3 married children, and between them, my husband and I have 10 grandchildren ranging in age from 3 to 17. For most of my married years I have loved keeping up with friendships and cultivating new relationships. The easiest way I found to do this over the years, was to have people over. Early on when finances were tight, it was not always affordable to meet someone at a restaurant for lunch or dinner, so having an inexpensive meal at home fit the pocketbook nicely. If I had to think about “entertaining” I maybe would have been more reluctant to do this.
We have tried to focus on the value of “being” together around the table, or in the yard, or on the deck.
These gatherings might include coffee or tea, a glass of lemonade or iced tea, they may include coffee cake of sweet rolls, or perhaps cookies, or they may include a dinner or perhaps just dessert.
For me, my husband’s family discovered delicious tacos when they were living in Arizona. They would have these delicacies every Saturday night and when they left Arizona in 1956 and moved to Oregon, they brought this tradition with them. I met the family in the summer of 1969. At some point during that summer I ate my first taco. You see, at that time in history there were no Taco Bells that I knew of or any other places to buy tacos that I was aware of. Up until that summer, I had never heard of a taco. My mother-in-luv (as she was called) and my father-in-luv (as he was called) prepared the taco dinner together.
- Cook ground beef until browned and crumbly at which time a can of tomato sauce was added.
- Next, add the spices, consisting of garlic and chili powder, and salt and pepper, to taste. While the meat simmers, prepare the condiments.
- Cut Velveeta cheese into strips and stack neatly on a plate, allowing for 3 strips per taco.
- Chop onion, tomatoes, and lettuce and put in bowls to set on the table.
- Heat flat corn tortillas in a small amount of oil on the stove just right and turn onto paper towels so the excess oil can be removed.
- Place a small amount of meat in each tortilla and then serve to someone at the table.
I kid you not, I had a difficult time trying to “act like a lady” and limit myself to only 3! Many times I was unsuccessful and had “just one more please.”
After my husband and I married we continued the tradition of tacos every Saturday and we began sharing them with our friends.
People used to say, “You are lucky if you get to have Miller tacos.”
It was our “company” meal and what we were known for. The funny thing is, if I thought I should branch out and prepare something more elegant than tacos, friends would more than likely say, “What, we’re not having tacos?”
Now let me say something about that tradition. Making tacos became second nature to me. I could practically do all the steps blindfolded. The great thing about that is, I was doing something I felt comfortable and confident with. I didn’t have to worry how it was going to turn out or when I should do something or what the next step was. I really could focus on the people we were with while preparing and cooking. I could enjoy and not be filled with stress.
Also, though we have gone away from slicing Velveeta to buying shredded cheese and we’ve added chopped celery, avocados, and sour cream; it’s a meal almost everyone enjoys and any guest can customize their selections to fit into their eating preferences and dietary restrictions.
What I want you to see here is that, for me, it was more about having friends and “being” with them. I knew that I could easily make this dinner and I could focus on our guests. If I would have tried to impress with something out of my comfort zone, I would likely have placed a stumbling block in my path and getting together might never have happened.
I hope you will feel inspired to connect, reconnect, or get to know someone in your community, realizing it is not about entertaining – holding the attention of – it is about “being” together, sharing life and relationship. ~Anne
Listen to Anne on the podcast: 003: At The Table With Anne Miller