Sunday was our 25th and last Open House Dinner for our neighbors. I’ve been asked why we started this and why we are now ending. I’ll share with you our experience.
The Beginning Over two years ago Stan and I attended a class/workshop taught by Chef Brad Peterson. As he was talking about cooking with grains (that’s his specialty), he paused and said he wanted to tell us all about a dinner he and his family did for their neighborhood. Once a month they invited any who wanted to come, meet new friends, socialize and it worked to make the neighborhood safer also. At this point I’m thinking this is nice, but there’s no samples (he cooked usually during his class). Stan leaned over and whispered, “I think we are supposed to do that”. I know what ‘we’ aka ‘me’ sometimes means, and I was not having the same thought (Stan was a definite WE as he took care of the yard, the set up, helped with food, and so many other aspects of the dinner). Besides our house is not large, maybe 2100 square feet and where would we put everyone. Right then Chef Brad, as though reading my mind said, “Now for those of you who think you may not have enough space, my house is only 1400 square feet. Fine, but what about the money? Chef Brad: If you don’t think you will have the money, miracles will happen. Ok, so why aren’t my prayers answered so quickly and like this!? I still wasn’t too sure.
Over the next couple of weeks I knew Stan and I were to hold these monthly dinners, but I was so nervous about the money, resources and time, I struggled. Blogging takes a ton more time then I ever imagined and I needed to get my book out too. I decided to listen to the prompting and dig in and do it. The week before every dinner I spent 1-2 days really deep cleaning the house. Then the time to plan the menu, shop and of course cook it all too. We began October of 2012 and it was a wonderful experience. I was now grateful that Stan and I were prompted to hold these dinners.
Humorous Experience I met a gal on the Frontrunner train who happened to live in my neighborhood. I invited her and her husband to come to the next open house dinner so more people could meet them. She said she would and took my name, number and address. The night of that particular dinner I had my oldest son and his family there because the gal is from Korea and my son lived in Korea for 2 years. I also had let others that I knew were coming to watch for them, so they would have instant friends. The dinners began at 5pm and end about 6ish, with people staying as long as they wish, but we didn’t want anyone coming to feel like they had to stay all night and not come because of that.
At 5:30 I was sad that they hadn’t come, but I understand things come up. At 5:35 the doorbell rings. It was them! Imagine this scenario: This sweet gal had her husband with a large stack of books, which it turned out were wedding books. I guess in Korea they have large mansion type places where every single room is decorated differently. The bride-to-be will put on a wedding dress and pose in a room. Then change to another dress and pose in another room, and on and on. Consequently she had several large books of these pictures to show the ladies.
This cute couple also had a dog in tow. My house number is the same as another house 2 blocks to the west of me; and another house 2 blocks east of me has the same number also. Well, this couple went to the wrong house originally. She told us they knocked on the door and a man answered. They walked in, took off their shoes (remember they are Korean), put the books down and held the wiggling dog. The husband asked what was for dinner. The man said rather perplexed that they were grilling steak. They said that sounded good and couldn’t wait for dinner. Then looking around they asked where all the people were. The man looked very confused and probably not sure what to think of his house guests, and replied that no one else was supposed to be there. They asked if I was in the kitchen, to which he responded that he didn’t know a Carrie. Realizing their mistake they put on their shoes, picked up the books and left to come to the correct house!
They were such a delight and everyone loved them. They moved not long after that, but what a nice couple- with a great sense of humor.
The Miracles There have been so many I could never name them all. I think the most important one is how Stan and I became a team My mom Connie and my sister Jody have been a huge support. Mom would scour the thrift stores for serving trays or bowls, always insisting she buy them to help our effort. Mom truly has been an angel to help us in countless ways so we could put our best forward. My sister Jody would also donate serving items when she came across them, and was at the dinners to help serve, clean up afterwards and anything else that needed to be done. Delsi and Dallin have been invaluable since they returned home from Brazil. They help with preparations when they are home, and always with the setting up, visiting with guests who came and cleaning up afterwards. (People often think they are dating since they don’t look like twins, so they make sure no one gets that idea which is why the arms are folded, lol.) Derek and Tawni supported our effort by visiting with people who came and even helped me get the house in order a time or two when it was a real crunch-time. (yes they are a couple, lol)
God even arranged time for our good a few times when needed. Our last two grand-babies were born on the 2nd Sunday weekend, and it all still worked out that I could be here to provide food and a hospitable place for our guests, as well as help with grand kids and be at the hospital for the newborns too.
Time to End Stan and I did not have a time in mind to stop these dinners, because we wanted to do it as long as God intended. In September I was getting ready for the dinner and wondered in my mind how long we would do these and figuring food, paper products, and other details for the next several months in my head; when the distinct thought came that we were done. We had been obedient, given our best and whatever was to be accomplished was done. I talked to Stan and he had the same impression. So we announced in September that October would be the last one. I did open it for pot luck for this dinner, as all the other dinners we had provided the food.
The Reward How can I list the blessings for the small sacrifice compared to the amazing blessing we are given from Him, even life itself! Stan and I have been married for more than 33 years. During that time we, like all married people, have had ups and downs, health problems, money struggles, family issues and endured extremely trying times. Yet, we chose to become closer, rather then further apart as these trials would come into play. Also, after 33 years of marriage you think you know most everything about a person. Because of this experience we learned even more about each other, and ourselves. A grand and unexpected advantage came because of this experience. Stan and I have worked together in scouting, church, family of course, but this opportunity brought us a whole new way to work as a team. We are now even closer and have an increased respect for each other because we know, for a certainty, that we can trust each other to do the hard things, while supporting and buoying each other up. If you are ever impressed/prompted to do something that is almost impossible and extremely difficult, I can promise the sweet peace and complete joy that comes as a result, is worth every ounce of effort. A very sincere thank you to all who have shared our 2nd Sunday dinners with us over the past 25 months.
Copyright Carrie Groneman, A Mother’s Shadow, 2014
Recognize a blessing and be a blessing today.