A Funny Story From Sarah … A Mary Verses Martha Story

A Mary Verses Martha Story: How To Become The Right Kind Of Hostess (And What I Was Doing Wrong )by Teresa Swanstrom Anderson

 AND A True Story From My Teens. 

From Sarah : It is  always better to enjoy your time with your guests than it is to worry about what dishes to use and hurrying around the kitchen trying to get everything looking just SO. 

Your guests came over to see you. To visit. They may expect to eat and look forward to it. Wondering what treats await them. But if all you do it stress and stay in the kitchen rushing around while everyone is sitting elsewhere…. no one is going to enjoy themselves. 

One thing I dearly miss here in Florida is having family visit or friends over. I thrived on it. 

My mom, aunt and grandma were all good cooks.  Even my grandpa had a few things he made well. Gravy. Pickles.

My mom taught me how to make home style country fare and make it stretch. 

As good as she was: she’d stress as the time got closer to serving up our Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.

She worried that things wouldn’t get done or something would go wrong.

She always said that I calmed her because I didn’t stress.

I never did.

Not even when something did go wrong.

I have to admit, I’d usually had a back up plan.

Both of us knew the importance of spending quality time with our guests. Family or friends. It didn’t matter.

My dad’s mom…..was the opposite.  My grandpa was a managing editor of Encyclopedia Britannica in Chicago.  They ENTERTAINED a lot.

Grandma was a good cook but she hated it. 

She had to have everything done just right. Everything had a certain use. A certain place. 


The meals were good. I actually was there for a few of them.

I won’t say that no one had a good time, because they did. But they weren’t fun.

There was one event, I remember well.

A smaller event. Only a few couples. Grandma had to run an errand. Why I don’t remember?  She had called from a pay phone as she left ????? saying  that there was a traffic jam and she wouldn’t be home for awhile yet.

I admit, she had a right to be UPSET at that.

Grandma had the right appetizers ready. The right dinner rolls . A lot of  the meal was done. We were having Cornish Hens.

As in One Cornish Hen PER Person.

In grandma’s eyes there were certain ways of presenting a dish. 

No problem, except my grandpa called saying he was bringing 4 more guests home. Two couples. 

Oops. First off… I can’t believe he did that. He knew better plus he wasn’t the sort to bring strangers or unplanned guests home. Grandma didn’t like that.

I just started doing what my mom had taught me. Added another relish dish, including opeaning a jar of regular olives and not the fancy kind. I added other things as well.

I also made a huge pot of Alfredo Spaghetti. A huge pot. Chicken and Alfredo go together don’t they? 

The table was set for the correct number of people. 

Everything looked good. To my eyes. But then I was 17.

Grandpa and the 2 couples got there early. Grandpa made drinks. 

They were chatting. The rest of the group got there.  Grandma was still not there.

Remember,  there were no cell phones. 

We were all doing great.  

Grandma eventually got home.

What do I remember her saying first? 

“Debra Sue, you are still wearing your jeans.”

I also remember how she looked when she saw the 4 “UNINVITED  guests. 

She tried to hide it but she was horrified. Absolutely horrified.

All she saw was her dinner plans had gone haywire. 

All her plans ruined. 

Then she saw a Pot Of Spaghetti. Spaghetti just wasn’t a fit dish to serve. It got served any way. Grandpa took it out. 

Grandma didn’t see that everyone was enjoying themselves.

Everyone was fine but her.

She missed out on a really special night because she couldn’t see what was happening. She had failed.

What other things do I remember about that evening? 

  1. I put on my dress, nylons and dress shoes. 
  2. Grandpa told me it was the best night ever. 

  3. The Cornish Hens were split in half.

  4. My spaghetti dish was gone. As in , they’d eaten every last bite. 

  5. I am 100 percent certain that Grandma NEVER MADE ALFREDO SAUCE.
    Sometimes a “Comedy Of Errors” can turn out just fine.

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