If hospitality is an inherited gene, I should have it. Whenever we visited my grandma on the West Coast (Grandma Washington, we used to call her), the topic of conversation from about Wyoming on was what kind of pie would be waiting for us on her blue–marble countertop.
We were never disappointed. After a long round of hugs and hellos, we kids made a dash for the kitchen to find the faithful spread of pies—fresh–picked huckleberry pie, straight–from–the–garden rhubarb pie, cherry pie with crisscrosses like only Grandma can make them. No matter what time of day we arrived, we'd have a slice (or two) while the kitchen buzzed with a dozen conversations.
My mom is no slouch herself in the hostess department. She's one of those fabulous people who has two sets of china—and uses both! Her formal dining room isn't reserved for holidays or the bridge club; it's a regular gathering place for family and friends and children.
As a child, I had my share of courses in hospitality school … making homemade donuts and cookies while standing on a chair in Grandma's kitchen, helping Mom set the table and make place cards for dinner guests. I guess I always figured my life would look a lot like theirs when I grew up—dinner parties with friends, brunches after church, homemade cookies in the oven, and a houseful of kids to eat them.
But at age 29, I'm realizing just how different my life looks from both my mom's and my grandma's. By this age Grandma had two kids, and Mom had two plus another on the way. They had full–time jobs all right, but not the kind you get paid for. Their days were filled with neighborhood play groups and church activities, volunteering and taking care of their homes, husbands, and children. My days are consumed by a full–time career, and the only living things I take care of are my houseplants. Without the perk of a wedding registry, my kitchen boasts an assortment of hand–me–down dishes and garage sale items. Somewhere in the bowels of my cupboard there's probably a pie tin, but I can say with some certainty that a homemade huckleberry pie isn't in its near future.1