One of the incredible pluses of schooling my children at home is taking the time to read novels aloud. I try to incorporate them with the time of history we’re studying, but feeling a little tired of Ancient Egypt and Greece stories, we decided to switch gears and read The Hobbit together. And as Tea Party Girl and a writer, I cherish the opening scene.

Many of you may already be familiar with the early life of Bilbo Baggins. He lives in and loves the Shire, and when we are first introduced to him we’re told his family is very respectable because:

they never had any adventures or did anything unexpected.”

Bilbo meets Gandalf the wizard, who’s reputation’s less spotless, shall we say, and Bilbo keeps up his guard.

“Sorry! I don’t want any adventures, thank you. Not today. Good morning! But please come to tea–any time you like! Why not tomorrow? Come tomorrow! Goodbye!” With that the hobbit turned and scuttled inside his round green door, and shut it as quickly as he dared, not to seem rude. Wizards after all are wizards.

“What on earth did I ask him to tea for!” he said to himself. He had only just had breakfast, but he thought a cake or two and a drink of something would do him good after his fright.

If you know the rest of the story, Bilbo’s fright, the challenge of hospitality with politeness, and possibilities of adventures are only beginning as Gandalf calls a secret meeting of many dwarfs who show up to Bilbo’s hobbit hole the following day right at teatime. And Bilbo ends up serving everything BUT tea. The “open-to-adventures” dwarfs and wizard would rather drink ale, porter, coffee, and a little red wine with their scones and cakes.

Oh, the humor as Tolkien describes the tension Bilbo feels trying to graciously serve the assuming dwarfs whose priorities are not on perfect manners or overstaying their welcome. Haven’t you been there? I certainly have. And I definitely know what it’s like to needs cakes and a drink after breakfast to help me recover from my fright.

So far today I only drank (have drunk?) tea standing up. Three different neighbors/friends stopped by (only one planned) and I didn’t serve tea to any of them. As I raced out of the house this afternoon without contacts or make-up, cramming down an apple and peanut butter with a handful of crackers, I consoled myself. At least today I’ve been open to adventures!

If you and I have the heart of a hobbit and hospitality, dwarfs and adventures with all their unpredictability and messiness will find their way to our front door and maybe even our tea table. My unexpected guests today were not as lucky. My heart, as Tea Party Girl, however is to welcome anyone to tea, even if their a little hairy or ask for something that causes me to scramble a bit. You never know where a new alliance will lead.

How do you handle unexpected guests?

Even the hairy ones?