It started with just a simple picture on Pinterest. A white sheet hung over the garage door and popcorn sat in brown lunch bags that had been folded over at the top. Somewhere, out of sight, was a movie projector and an adoring audience.

I could do that, came the dangerous thought.

I had been looking for a way to invite more people to our home, a way to go beyond relationships where we stay at arm’s length. This seemed perfect. We’d have our own drive-in every Saturday night, I explained to three excited boys and one slightly skeptical husband.

We’d invite family and friends and the neighborhood kids. We’d let the boys drag out their bean bag chairs, and we’d set up a concession stand for 4-year-old Benjamin to run. Every night at dinner we talked about how soon the projector would arrive in the mail, how soon people would come over.

When we put a Popeye cartoon on and did our trial run, even the husband was no longer skeptical. So, the invitations went out and people began to trickle in on opening night. The brownies were made. The cherry limeade and sweet tea were poured into mason jars – a subtle nod to my Oklahoma upbringing. Benjamin arranged his candy at the concession stand, and Garfield magically appeared on the side of our garage.

About 20 minutes in, Benjamin returned to his stand and brought the plate of brownies out to the audience. “Is there anything else you’d like?” he asked, playing the make believe part of vendor and the real role of host. I couldn’t help but smile.

I like how Kay Wills Wyma writes about hospitality in Cleaning House: A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement ($14.99, WaterBrook Press). “Hospitality gets your eyes off yourself and onto others – a good thing, no matter your age,” she says, adding that hospitality is always appreciated, even if an event isn’t magazine-cover perfect. “I’m convinced that people love to be included and enjoy fellowship.”

She’s right, of course, and the very next night our nephew asked if he could come over again. We popped some more popcorn and pulled out the cheap projector and the extension chord. It was perfect after all, perfectly welcoming.

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