Thursday, August 6, 2009

In Honor of "The Office" Gang....

This morning my husband and I received an email from the college our son will be attending. It's an online newsletter we've been receiving, and in this edition was an article titled, "Seven Steps to a Smooth Move-In Day." Wow! That was a surprise to see early in the morning!

Yes, we are 2 weeks away from the big move-in day. In honor of Matthew and all his friends who will soon be leaving for college all across Ohio and neighboring states, I am posting an article I wrote last year about this time. It's too close to write about now, so I'll let that article speak for itself.

(PHOTO: Matthew and his friends taken at his 18th birthday surprise party last year. Matthew is at the top of the stairs, on the left.)

The Excitement of Hospitality

I’m so excited. It’s not my birthday or a holiday, but it is a special day. Tonight is the season premiere of the TV program, The Office. Now, I enjoy The Office, but more importantly, I enjoy what it brings: teenagers -- more specifically, my son’s friends.

For the last couple of years, a group of 10-12 kids assemble at our house nearly every Thursday night during the television season of the program. My husband and I love it! We love seeing these kids and although they get together at other times, we know we’ll get to see them during The Office season.

My husband, Ken, and I have been talking about the gathering since we saw previews for the premiere. This morning I confirmed with Matthew, our son, that he was having the group in (They never plan anything in advance. To know the morning of is really good, since this is about as far in advance as they plan.)

I said I’d make some food. "I’ll make brownies," I said. My son said, “You don’t have to make anything.” (Translation: Thanks, Mom. That’d be great!)
So, I’ll make some things and get ready to greet their smiling faces at the door. They’ll all go downstairs to the Matt-cave (a.k.a. the family room in the basement) and Ken and I will look at each other and smile, thrilled that our kids are back.

Then, we’ll have a straggler or two who had late shifts at Buehler's (our grocery store) or Dairy Queen, and we’ll usher them to join the others. We’ll hear the roar of the welcome, “Marissa!” or "Nick!" and then chatter and then quiet, while they watch the show. Every now and then we’ll hear raucous laughter as they share a moment of humor together. Ah, the stuff memories are made of….

We’ll check on the kids, offer more food and smile at all the shoes at the front door. I’ve often wanted to photograph the shoes because they are a composite of those who are downstairs: tiny little flip-flops, belonging to some of the gals; larger sandals many of the golfers wear to the golf course; and a variety of sneakers, all sizes, colors and styles. Yep, we’ve got a conglomerate of kids down there.

I’ve contemplated what it will be like next year. Our son is a senior this year, as are all the kids downstairs. Ken and I know the hard part is yet to come. When our only child is away at college, all these kids will be gone, too. It will be a double whammy when they graduate. I hope I’ll be ready.

Maybe they will take pity on us and visit when they return home for a visit. When our son went to Australia on a People to People Student Ambassador trip for three weeks last year, several of these kids stopped by to see us. It warmed our hearts that they were checking on us in Matthew’s absence. Hopefully, they will continue to do that. Maybe they’ll even stop by to watch The Office during Thanksgiving break.

I’ve learned so much about hospitality with these kids. They are happy to be welcomed. Sometimes they are talkative and sometimes they are not. Sometimes they just want a place to hang out with their friends. With the peer pressure kids face today, we are happy to provide that place. We know where they are, what they are doing and that they are safe. And we love seeing their smiling faces and hearing their excited voices as a result of being with their friends. In many ways, hospitality is about welcoming others and creating memories. We hope these kids are creating memories that will truly last a lifetime.

--Written October, 2008

It has been our pleasure to know these terrific young men and women. They have enriched our lives so much and we treasure the memories we have with them. We wish them the best of everything life has to offer and we know they will accomplish great things in the years to come.

I hope they know they are always welcome here and we look forward to future visits when we hear about college roommates, challenging classes and majors being pursued. Most importantly, I hope they know they are loved.


tinabheart said...

What you have done for these kids is priceless!

Vanessa said...

Thank you, but WE are the ones who've benefitted.... :)