How to have a hayride:
You should definitely invite everyone you know. After 7 years, let the record show that whether you mail invitations, facebook invitations, evite invitations, or stand on a street corner with a banner, 50 people will show up on your doorstep at 6pm. Invite everyone.
You should have only one bathroom. That bathroom should both NOT LOCK and have 2 doors. One of those doors should be made of plywood that enters into the master bedroom. Keep it classy. Make your bed.
You should forget to put out drinks. Remember the hotdogs and the sandwiches and the salty chips with dip, but forget the drinks until halfway through.
You should host in a home with approximately 400 square feet of accessible inside space. Seven years has proven that the basement goes completely unused. Some people head straight to the bonfire out back and do not come back inside, using children to ferry drinks and food. Others claim the couch and still others the porches. It’s enough room. It is. It seems like it’s not, like it will never be enough, but people make themselves comfortable whether there is actual space or not.
You should build a massive hay fort with 5-foot bales and secret passageways that encourage children to stay outside and makes new friends/fake enemies. Put the fort within easy viewing from the front window so moms can monitor any injuries without having to be away from the chocolate pecan pie.
You should know that you’ll forget to eat. You know everyone who’s coming, so you’ll be hugging and laughing and smiling… and you’ll forget to eat. Plan ahead by making incredible friends who hide pies in your kitchen cupboards for you to find after everyone has left.
You should have glow sticks. It gets dark out in the country, even with a full moon… so have glow sticks and candy apples for children. This will endear you to them and trick them into being visible and perhaps 1% safer.
You should have a hay wagon that is excessively bumpy. The trail should have random tree branches to surprise people and very steep hills. People will think the tractor sounds “tough” and “vintage” and you will nod and say, “Yes. It’s fun, isn’t it?” all the while knowing it’s just in disrepair because you forgot to fix the muffler. Perspective, folks. Perspective.
But, and this is the most important thing,
You should do it. Welcome them in with spotted windows and dirty floors, questionable forecasts and stuffy noses. Turn on the porch light and light the fire for new friends and old friends and the possibility of fellowship. Your sink will be dirty and someone will fall off the trampoline and yet another will miss the hayride all together, but there will be news of new babies, stories about grammas and moose, and the ease of friends making friends with other friends.
All you have to do is hold open your door. Your cheap, non-locking, finger-printed door and say,
“You are welcome.
You are welcome here.”
You have good friends. Really good friends. And while this season of life does not allow for weekly dinners or sing-alongs anymore, studies have shown that people will come if you make them macaroni and cheese. They will. They will come even if it might be muddy, if the kids will go to bed late, if it’s 45 minutes out of their way, if it’s a full moon.
They will come and you will say, “You are welcome.”
But what you mean to say is,