I think I’ve mentioned it before. Most Mennonites and other people I know are exceptional at giving people things. They know how to cook a big dinner, and invite people in, and generally the house has been cleaned before hand. There might even be fresh flowers and pleasant aromas and neatly manicured flower beds on top of a clean house.
I remember seeing research that suggested middle to upper class people are great at responding to disasters and helping out when it “makes them look good.” But to slog away in the trenches of service and “give and take” with people in need is less common.
Now, I’m not even that great at the giving end of hospitality, and I’m much too quick to get stressed out about what food to make, etc. Marnell is working on me in that regard! Marnell and the Holy Spirit.
But what’s much harder for me is receiving hospitality or generosity in unfamiliar or repulsive forms. For instance, our neighbor Janice brought me a baby dress that smelled like cat pee. It was mildly cute, but hard for me to accept. I think I’ve washed it three times now, and got the smell out. So there’s no reason I can’t use it. But I struggled. She also gave me a friendship bracelet, chipped and grimy. I tried to sanitize it before putting it around a vase on my window sill.
The other common thing is getting things from the food pantry. The same acquaintance tried to sell us onions and mixed fruit from the food pantry the other day to buy cigarettes. We didn’t purchase anything.
But then there’s the duck.
This one comes from our friend Chris, who we both enjoy a lot. He’s been through a lot of tough times, and learned to play Scrabble well enough in prison that he beats me from time to time. He comes for supper occasionally, and likes to bring things along.
This is the ideal kind of hospitality – don’t get me wrong – where everyone contributes. In fact, he’s had us at his apartment before too, and when a cockroach crawled up the wall behind me, he calmly got up and killed it and everything was fine.
But this better kind of hospitality is harder than the “invite people like yourself” kind. I don’t always know what to do with the things he brings.
The other day, Chris was going to come over. He wasn’t feeling the greatest after getting his second Covid shot, and so he decided to stay home. Marnell stopped in to check on him and drop off a little food, and came home with a meat injector kit and a large frozen duck.
Now, I really don’t want a duck taking up space in my freezer. I don’t have any idea how to cook it. I guess I’ll thaw it out the next time Chris comes and try injecting it with the flavoring kit he sent and drop it in the oven. I’m sure it’s from the food pantry, and that’s okay. If I needed to get food from a food pantry, I’m sure I wouldn’t always know what to do with the groceries that get donated.
But what do you cook to go along with duck?
And how do you carve it? And what do you do with the leftovers? And what if it’s not even good?
“This duck is stressing me out,” I told Marnell last night. He’s there, invisible in the freezer (the duck, not Marnell), but kind of ever-present.
We chatted about it for a bit, and Marnell made a comment about the conversation being a bunch of quack. Later we talked about it again and he started quacking. Typical!
I’m glad to have a give and take relationship with our neighbor. I think hospitality is best experienced when it goes both ways.
But seriously. Any tips on how to cook and eat a duck?
Book Store Announcements
Release date for Trapped in the Tunnel – June 23, 2021. Thankfully, my work is mostly done on this, and I have a fantastic team of people to wrap it up while I hang out with a newborn. 🙂
We’ve decided to permanently lower the audiobooks and e-books on my shop. The downloadable audiobook of From the White House to the Amish will be $7.99 (about half the price of your credit on Audible!) and the e-books (From the White House to the Amish and Captain Garrison) will be $3.99. Save your Audible credit for another book, and buy direct!
Remember, you can now listen to the downloaded audiobook on your computer, as well as on a phone or tablet.
Giving you the best prices in this shop actually helps us, because the large stores only share a fraction of the profit with us. We’ve also lowered the Audio CD set just a bit, to give you a bonus for buying direct from us. However, if it’s easier for you, the audio CD sets are now available from Faith View book store and TGS International, both large distributors in Ohio who will also ship to you.