By Marnita Coleman
Special to the AFRO
If hindsight is 20/20, then the emerging new normal offers a fresh start to valuing moments that were taken for granted during pre-pandemic times of celebration and intimate get-togethers with close friends and family.
As the country reopens and gatherings resume, let’s show more gratitude towards those who hosted us in times past. Acknowledge when they roll out the red carpet for your festivity. Notice the elaborate table settings and observe the fragrant aroma of flowers fresh from the garden. Treasure the extraordinary touches that were evident everywhere you gazed.
“The hospitality gift is difficult to describe, but it is easily recognized in the moment. You can visit many homes for meals and have fun and laugh all night long. But there’s that special place. It could be a home. It could be a space created in an office or in a park. When that person prepares a meal, a moment, an event, you can feel the love wrapped all around it. There’s a feeling of elegance aimed right at you and you know it when you feel it,” Rev. Dorothy Boulware, AFRO managing editor, recalled.
Rev. Boulware had one particular friend in mind who abundantly gave the gift of hospitality, beyond her delectable home cooked meals. Jones exuded sheer excellence in honoring her guests, as she set them upon a pedestal for an unforgettable, unique experience. It was the gift she freely lavished upon them.
“My friend Cora Jones was like that; she’s in heaven now. She would invite you to lunch as just a casual, spur of the moment thing. But when you arrived at her home, you recognized your royalty and you knew she’d done the same. Every minute spent with her smacked of her love and respect toward you. No regular glass containing iced tea. No ma’am. She’d serve iced tea mixed with fresh fruit in a previously frozen special occasion glass. Maybe with a sprig of mint on the rim. She’d have a tray of veggies lightly touched with oil that somehow tasted as if the oil had been made of gold. And at the end of the fully cooked-from-scratch meal, there’d be a store-bought piping hot apple pie that felt lucky to be served at Cora’s table. And it was topped with a scoop of my favorite ice cream. How’d she know?
She always knew. And being at her table always made me feel like a queen. You know what I mean and you are thinking of your friend who has the gift of hospitality right now,” She added.
Absolutely, Sonya Jones-Figueroa is my dear friend who goes above and beyond to give her guests a special encounter. The ambiance of her home is warm and inviting and whatever she prepares is laced with perfection. From a simple garden salad that tastes like heaven to a heart-shaped cake with buttercream frosting, her passion for hospitality is evident the moment you arrive.
Then there’s my grandmother. Both sides of my family are from North Carolina, so every summer my parents, my siblings and I would pile into the car and head down south. One of the things, I looked forward to were my grandmother’s biscuits which were made fresh from scratch daily. Spread some pear preserves, that she canned herself, across the fluffy golden brown goodness and you were, as they say, a happy camper.
If nothing more, the pandemic has taught us the privilege of relationships and the importance of esteeming every moment with others. The next time someone makes you feel like a queen, be certain to acknowledge it with the appreciation of a dignitary.