Always seat visitors at the kitchen table. The dinette is conveniently located just inside the back door, the entrance everyone uses. (If the front bell rings, it must be a stranger. Ignore it.)
Don’t offer to take your guests’ coats. Even the youngest knows to hang hers on the back of a chair. If there are not enough seats in the kitchen, walk to your unused dining room and grab extras. Move these yourself so that guests are not put out, even when they offer to help.
Refreshments are unnecessary. Conversation will sate all appetites. During the holidays, however, share cut-out cookies or offer popcorn balls that previous guests have delivered. If your current guests have brought their own Christmas treats, remind them that they shouldn’t have because how can a widow possibly eat all of this by herself?
Seated in the kitchen, your grandniece can spy the door to your basement. While the grown-ups talk, she can imagine what lurks down there and wonder if you ever venture into that secret space. She will also speculate on the layout of the rest of the house, rooms shrouded in mystery that she has never seen.
As she gets older, share clippings from The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine that you have been saving on the kitchen counter for her. Talking about the articles will make her feel smart and distract her from musing on your home’s floor plan.
When arthritis ravages your joints and confines you to a recliner, rely on your nurse to escort your now grown-up visitor to your living room. She will see how shrunken you have become within the context of your rather ordinary home.
She will miss sitting in the kitchen.