Thanksgiving is a week away and I’ve done nothing to get ready for the holiday. Usually by this time I have at least made out my shopping list, but, ugh, I can’t seem to get my act together.
I place the blame on the November issue of Better Homes and Gardens. The magazine has never had an adverse effect on me before, but now it’s guilty of killing my entertaining spirit. My turkey day joie de vivre has been crushed. All because of the high expectations brought forth by BHG. Why, oh why, have you betrayed me, Better Homes and Gardens?
Here’s the deal. I don’t read Martha Stewart Living because it’s like looking at a fashion spread in Vogue. Would any human and/or alien who inhabits our galaxy wear the outfits featured in Vogue? Heck, no.
It’s the same thing with Martha Stewart Living. The magazine is a cry for help. It’s not even aspirational reading. It’s “if you spend three days handcrafting linen napkins and then one whole day turning that creation into origami table art” go check yourself into a mental health facility because it’s evident you are suffering from some sort of undiagnosed psychological disorder that’s being played out in an entertaining fetish.
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I always thought of Better Homes and Gardens as a safe haven of sorts. It’s readable and relatable. There are pages of recipes and tips that I can actually use and do — until this month.
The thing that got me wasn’t the cooking or decorating tips, but the suggestions for welcoming house guests. The magazine calls it “five star hotel indulgences.” I call it scary.
Let’s do a quick rundown of some of the recommendations. First up, hand-crocheted holiday slippers. WTH? If a family member or friend gave me slippers she or he had knitted I would be freaked out. So many spooky questions would be running through my mind. When did they have the time? Why did they make the time? What did they not do to make the time? How did they know my shoe size? And most importantly, are crocheted slippers some sort of process in a ritual serial killing? For me, the crochet footwear is screaming, “Haul buns to the nearest Marriott Courtyard.”
Then there’s the guest room decor suggestions. Sure, it’s the usual suspects: fresh flowers in an heirloom vase and homemade harvest granola-enriched snacks. But there’s also the recommendation to supply your guests with bandages and First Aid supplies. Am I the only one that thinks this is a red flag for the whole serial killing thing? Work with me on this. If you walked into a guest room and saw medical triage supplies, would you or would you not be alarmed?
This issue also features a cutesy door hanger template you can use for your guests. One of the areas on the hanger was for “House Hints & Rules.” The magazine on their sample door hanger wrote “No treats for the dog” and “Backyard gate sticks.” Hmm, is this because the dog likes to feast on human remains? And about that backyard gate, I bet it sticks, as in sticks so much you’re never, ever, escaping.
I could be over-thinking all of this and I fear the real problem is that I have a social disorder of my own. It’s not that I don’t enjoy being a guest in other people’s homes, but if they’re making a November 2014 Better Homes and Gardens fuss I’m going to be uncomfortable. Great hospitality to me is when my sister says, “I made a Costco run and there’s a tub of artichoke dip with your name on it. Knock yourself out.” Or when a good friend asks, “Do you want one or two dogs sleeping with you?”
That’s my kind of gracious living. It makes me feel at home and welcome. I don’t need flowers, an organic chunky knit throw artfully gracing the guest bed, or hand-ground hummus. I just want to spend time with my loved ones and know that I’ll be able to reciprocate.
One of the problems with putting on the Ritz for house guests is that your overly indulgent hospitality may limit the number of invitations you’ll receive in return. Your guests could think, “I’ll never come close to replicating this” and be embarrassed to extend a “Hey, let’s do this at our house next year” invite or even return for a visit.
Wait a minute, wait a minute, maybe that’s what’s going on. Maybe this whole “five star” hospitality thing is a way to passively aggressively thin your houseguest herd. Well played, Better Homes and Gardens, well played.