I want to take a moment to talk about house-warning gifts, hostess gifts, and thank you cards. Small acts of graciousness and thoughtfulness which have somehow been lost in today’s world.
Once we settled into our newest Hobbit Hole, Library & I had a house-warming party. I love to hostess – filling others with good food, drink, being the instrument of a merry time for those I care for. Capital D&M (i.e. my parents) have always been such virtuous examples of generosity, welcoming others into their home and providing for their needs and wants. I give credit to them for my own ability and desire to do just that. When I was younger I didn’t think much of it, I just did it and knew I enjoyed it, despite the work it sometimes was. But as I’ve aged (how that word makes me sound far older then a 20-something!) I’ve grown to truly appreciate good hospitality, hostessing, and general care and attention given to those you welcome into your home.
When ConvertKat walked through the Hobbit Hole door, she had with her a quaint basket, filled with desirable things. It was so sweetly displayed, it took me a week to unpack it simply because I enjoyed looking at it every time I walked past the liquor cabinet which I had set it on! As I looked through it upon it’s arrival, I couldn’t help but acknowledge how deliberately thought out this house-warming basket was: a set of tea towels, whose colours and patterns match the Hobbit Hole just so; a matching butter dish & creamer in pretty colours & pattern; quince jam; some Italian treats. Every item in the basket had a reason for being in there. The entire basket contained items of use and necessity (tea towels – when I expressed my admiration of how well the tea towel colours suited the Hobbit Hole, ConvertKat confessed that she had been taking mental note the last time she had been here, of colours and patterns and what would suit), pretty but functional items (butter dish & creamer, for company usage), an adventurous and personal item (quince jam, ConvertKat & I had talked about it some weeks before because I had read about it and ConvertKat said she likes it, and I probably would too, and should try it), and finally just a sweet little treat (Italian wafer rolls) for us to enjoy. This basket was the epitome of thoughtfulness and kind consideration towards friends who are settling into a new home. It displays such virtue in ConvertKat, with such care and attention that went into something for another person.
Another friend, LitNurse (as in “literature” nurse, not “drunk” nurse, except that she is one who enjoys her libations at the appropriate times, and so this pseudonum fits her just right) brought us a pumpkin. It was very like her, season suited, and the perfect decorative but non-permanent item to enjoy for the next while.
But the thoughtful gifts weren’t only left to the girls. IntenseKnight brought us a bottle of red wine, because he knows how much we both enjoy that. HandsomeAndSingle brought a bottle of the whiskey he had been telling me about during a whiskey conversation we had a couple weeks prior. And DancingGoof – despite him living in the US and only seeing him when he is home on the occasional Christmas visit or summer vacation – brought a bottle of scotch he thought I would like, because he remembered that I like scotch. And finally, AmericanNeighbour brought some lovely muffins he baked.
I was so heartily impressed by these friends’ thoughtfulness, and yet not truly surprised, for these are exact reasons I am friends with each of them. Their consideration and attention towards others is a virtue I strive for as well, and it is natural to surround yourself with those who would bring you higher.
Housewarming gifts are a corner of the lost art of friendship and hospitality. When someone moves into a new home, for a friend to provide their presence to warm it, and a little something to hold warmth after they leave, is an invaluable gift which both fosters friendship and provides care and attention to someone you care about. You are both bringing warmth and leaving some behind as your friend tries settling into a new house and making it “home”. Friends are meant to support and encourage each other, keeping the path lighted with comaraderie and joy. A housewarming gift is just the sort of physical thing to show that support, encouragement and friendship during a change.
Hostess gifts serve a bit of a different purpose. Hostesses are hard at work while you are in their home, enjoying their company, their personal space, and their provisions. A hostess gift – which can be something as simple as a bar of scented soap, some wild flowers, or tea – is a little something to show your appreciation of being welcomed into their home, of their effort going into making you and other guests comfortable. It lets your hostess know you consider her as someone to be appreciated, and are grateful to her for her friendship and care.
And finally, thank you cards are a missing gem from modern society. Where did the days go when one sent a note the day after a dinner party to say thank you for the lovely evening? One can (and naturally does) thank a friend for a gift or for a lovely dinner evening upon receiving it. But a little note the following day, or the following week, shows a lasting appreciation – you haven’t forgotten about that gift after the rush of the party, that you hold the gift or time spent very dear, and are grateful to your giver or host for having given or made it happen.
All three of these ageless acts show a thoughtful consideration for others, a gracious humility, a tender act of friendship, and should undoubtedly be carried out by all of us striving to live a virtuous, Catholic life.