I had to show you my chicken picture. I bought it at a consignment store a few years ago, and my two friends, who were much more stylish than me, laughed when they saw it. They didn’t like the frame, and they said it really didn’t match the rest of the room, yada, yada, yada, but I knew that what was really going on is that they just didn’t like the chickens. It’s o.k. if you don’t like my picture. It will always be the focus of my family room, because I LOVE it.
Why? First, it’s not a picture, it’s a framed Hermes Paris scarf, and it might be worth a billion dollars when I’m eighty. And think of its versatility. One day, I might break into that frame and just wear that scarf.
I like that it’s says Art Institute of Chicago on it because my family’s from Chicago, and I love that it says Early America on it. Early America is my favorite–in history, art, literature, and furniture. Someday, I’m going to buy myself a colonial bench. I might even prop a dummy of Ben Franklin on it because he’s my favorite Founding Father at the moment.
I also like that the scarf is mostly red. So you can see that this scarf and I were just meant to be.
But my favorite part about the scarf is that it has so many chickens on it. I know that chickens have been the rage forever and are slowly going out of style, but I will ALWAYS love chickens because they remind me of my grandmothers.
My first grandmother, Dorthella, died when I was five. I loved her to pieces. She made me a pink blanket that I slept with until I got married. Now one of my sisters sleeps with it, and it’s falling to pieces, and she needs to give it back to me. Now.
My grandmother raised chickens and when I say chickens, I mean thousands of chickens. She dusted their eggs each day and sold them to a local grocer. She worked really hard to help support her family. I see those chickens and I think how I want to be more like my Grandma Dorthella. I want to work hard to build my family too. My eighth value for my mission statement is work.
My other grandmother, Jane, died when I was just a baby, but I think we’re going to get along splendidly when we meet up again. She was a lady before her time. She studied business, and she was a missionary in Chicago. She married a man six years younger than she, and her mother-in-law never forgave her for marrying him. She lived with her husband on a farm in Alberta. Life was tough.
But she was known to be a gracious hostess. She fed friends and strangers alike. When people came to eat, she’d go out to her yard, behead a chicken, take off its feathers, and prepare it for dinner. Having guests over was a lot more work back then. I look at my scarf, and I think of my Grandma Payne who always took care of those who stopped at her door. Graciousness is my ninth value for my mission statement.
The ancient Greeks took hosting very seriously. Zeus was the god over the guest/host relationship, known as Xenia. It was a sacred relationship. As a host, you were expected to treat your guest like royalty, and as a guest, you were not to take advantage of your host’s generosity.
You know why the Trojan war got started? Because Paris was a guest in Menelaus’ house when he ran off with Menelaus’ wife. That was a big no no. You know why Odysseus had to slay all of his wife’s suitors when he finally got home twenty years later? Because they were eating too much of his pork, which was very rude. Oh, and they were trying to kill his son and usurp his throne. They were not very good guests either.
Grandma Payne must have had some ancient Greek blood in her because she really knew how to take care of those that came into her home. I love taking good care of people too, although we have a more chaotic style around our house. I did just buy some champagne glasses. They trick our guests into thinking we are classier than we really are. I also hope those glasses will trick my boys into having better manners. They certainly have to be more careful since I have threatened them with their lives if they break one.