When I was growing up, our table always had room for one more.
My mother told me about her grandfather, who insisted an extra place be laid on the table in case anyone should come.
This was part of his faith. The extra plate was for Jesus. Jesus, himself, did not appear, but my great grandfather also believed that a person who arrived at meal time was a guest to be treated as if he were Jesus.
…“for I was hungry and you gave me food. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink…. Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these, who are members of my family, you did it to me. Matthew 25: 35, 40
No matter when they arrived, my mother offered her guest or guests food and drink. There was always a ready supply of cookies and water to heat for tea or coffee.
Perhaps it was my mother’s influence, but my husband and I always loved having guests, friends, and family. If the person was unexpected, we shared whatever simple meal we had. One friend was thrilled to be offered creamed chipped beef on toast with a salad.
There were times I planned a formal meal for special guests, but it wouldn’t be long before I’d drop the formality. Our guests always seemed more comfortable afterward.
I think that guests do not like to feel that they are “putting you out.” Guests sense when their host or hostess is uncomfortable. It is not the meal that is important, it is the guests. When guests feel comfortable, everyone has a great time.