The Visiting Culture

When I grew up, we visited.

My grandma, aunts, uncles and cousins, and family friends dropped in unexpectedly just to visit.

No food, no elaborate parties, no e-vites or complicated scheduling, just drop-in visits.

When guests showed up, we stopped what we were doing and sat down to visit.

On sunny days, we sat on the patio or on lawn chairs under a shade tree and visited.

On cold days, we sat around the kitchen table or in the living room, and visited.

As the visit ended, and the guests got up to leave, they said, “Come over!”

That meant, drop by anytime, and we did.

We dropped by their houses and they dropped by ours, and it was easy, pleasant and natural.

I miss sitting in lawn chairs at my Grandma’s house and visiting with my relatives on Sunday afternoons.

I miss my Grandma and aunts stopping by in the middle of the afternoon just to chat.

Our lives are too busy and scheduled for this kind of casual, comfortable visiting now.

Now we pull out our calendars and negotiate one date after another…

Oh, I can’t do it that day, I have a meeting or an appointment, or I’m out-of-town.  How about this date instead?

No, I can’t do that because this or that is happening. Let’s try going out another month or so…

When we finally settle on a date, we start the back-and-forth all over again about where to go and at what time.

Of course, this communication is generally through e-mail or Facebook.

It’s archaic to talk on the phone.

And, that’s another thing.  My mom talked to my grandma every morning.

I sadly have to remind myself to call my family at least weekly.

My mom lived in a different culture — a visiting culture, and there are days I wish I lived in that culture.

After her morning call to my grandma, she usually checked in with at least one of her sisters or sister-in-laws.

She worked through the morning and then met our neighbor, Mrs. Leslie,  in the driveway and they stood with their rakes or hoes and visited.

They toured each other’s yards and then sat in lawn chairs and admired their flowers and perfectly mowed grass together.

And then people just popped in on us — no appointments, no lunch dates, just stopped by to say hello.

And we welcomed them!

We didn’t look nervously at our clocks or think about all the work we couldn’t get done or all the appointments we might miss.

We just sat down in a relaxed frame of mind, and visited.

Sometimes we pulled out the diet Coke or Tab but we didn’t feel any pressure to entertain and nobody expected it.

After my mom graduated from high school, her group of friends organized a club and they decided to get together every other Thursday night.

For over 50 years they’ve had “club.” (They never call it “the club,” it’s always just “club.”)

They set up a schedule a year at a time and assign different club members as hostesses.

The hostess provides a simple dinner.  They eat and then sit around and visit for hours.

It’s a Springville, Utah and Spanish Fork, Utah tradition, I think, because there are several successful “clubs” like my mom’s.

And the club stories are the best.

Like when my mom’s club had a bra party. They invited a bra saleswoman, and she showed up with a trunk full of bras.

The ladies dispersed throughout the house and tried on bras, then returned to model them.

One of the ladies held up an especially large bra, and said, “Whose is this?  It looks like it belongs to an old milk cow.”

Everyone roared with laughter until one of the ladies said, “Thanks a lot!  It’s mine!”

And it really was hers…

Club is about friends getting together in a no-fuss, easy, regular way.

I need a club.  Actually, I need a life that allows me to belong to a club.

And I need friends whose lives allow them to join my club.

I think if I organized a club, sent out a schedule, and told everyone to make it simple and easy, everyone would panic.

First, they would look at their schedules and tell me all the reasons why they couldn’t attend on that particular night.

Then, if they could attend, they would not know how to keep it simple and easy.

my kind of club...

One of them would create crafty invitations, a theme, decorations, and then try new elaborate foods they found on Pinterest.

Another one would break the rules and order out.

Then another one would look at the two clubs held before their club and feel defeated because they can’t make crafty invitations and can’t afford to order out.

And then there’s the house-cleaning, the kids, husbands, traveling in rush hour traffic, jobs that require traveling or previous commitments.

Okay, so I can’t have a club.

I can’t even make it to my book club.

(In fact, I think they quit telling me about the book selections because I’m not a good book club goer.)

And, I don’t live in a place where the visiting culture can thrive.

I have a few friends that stop by occasionally, but they always take the risk of me being busy or not home.

Sometimes I long for my hometown culture where friends and families just popped in, and our worlds didn’t have to be rearranged to accommodate them.

I miss the casual, unstructured visiting days.

Someday, when my life slows down, I’m starting a club.

Really, someday I am.

Clearly, at this stage of my life, my club won’t last 50 years like my mom’s because all my friends will be dead by then.

Now, there’s a lovely thought.

On second thought, I better not wait any longer to start my club.

So, who wants to be in my no-fuss visiting club?

Just remember the rules — you can’t ever be out-of-town; you have to stick to the club schedule; you can’t compete with each other and get all crafty; and no milk cow comments at the bra party.

Who’s in?

(You can see why I don’t have a club…)

Comments

  1. cathy lloyd says:

    I’m in…totally…you say when and I’ll be there!

  2. I want a club like that! Or just going back to the visiting culture would be good, too, although I don’t know if I’ve ever actually lived in that culture, except maybe during college. It sounds so wonderful, though, and I miss talking to grown-up women. (I haven’t gone to a book club for a long time!)

  3. You can count on me to not to get crafty and have cute invitations! 🙂

    • Me, too, Ginger. I’m the anti-crafter! And visitors are lucky if there is a path cleared through the living room. (You may think I’m exaggerating, but not by much.)

  4. Oh, Laurie, this is so true! I’ve often wished I had an “Ethel Mertz” to my “Lucy Ricardo.” When the busy-ness settles down, it’s a lonely life. Our lives are made so much richer by the friends with whom we are comfortable and with whom we can be ourselves. I miss those days.

  5. Denise Ables Belyavsky says:

    I want to be in your club Laurie. And I wish I was raised in a visiting culture like you.

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