I’ve been enjoying writing this series! Breaking it up into specific areas seems to cut back on the overwhelming factor. There are SO many things to do and people to notice and places you could put your energy into, that it helps to look at it in segments.
Today’s topic is close to my heart. Loving your neighbors, literally. Both my husband and I have a heart for reaching out to neighbors. We feel so blessed to live in a good neighborhood, and have enjoyed getting to know the people around us in the 2 1/2 years we’ve lived here. The majority of them are older people — the average age is 60+. (In fact, we found out that the one lady refers to us affectionately as “the kids”. Ha!!) Jonathan plows most of their driveways in the winter, and we like to randomly visit them on snowy evenings.
The last two summers, we have talked about hosting a neighborhood picnic in our back yard. Years ago, the couple that used to live two houses over always had a Christmas party in their basement for the neighborhood. They have since moved, and no one has picked up the ball to continue. We decided this is the year to make it happen! Partly because our widowed neighbor lady is moving soon, and partly because it’s time to stop talking and actually do it. 🙂A week ago, I quickly whipped up a flyer type invitation and we walked around at dusk, passing them out. Everyone seemed enthusiastic and excited! The guy across the road said, “Last Sunday we saw your backyard picnic and my wife said, “We should have a neighborhood picnic!” 🙂
Yesterday was THE DAY. 🙂
I had visions of all sorts of artsy pictures — HA! When one is running around starting ice cream makers + putting food out + welcoming people, well — I’m just happy I have ANY pictures at all! (However dark and quickly snapped they are)
:::OUR NEIGHBORHOOD PICNIC:::
People starting arriving a little after 6, and it truly was a little smattering of all kinds of people. From the little Horning lady next door + her schoolteacher granddaughter, to the newest neighbors down the road with the million dollar house. There was a mostly blind former pastor + his wife (who happens to be my third cousin, originally from Ohio. Random, huh?), a family who originally lived in Connecticut, and an eccentric widower who forgets who you are about 5 minutes after he meets you. (He also barks when he introduces himself, as his last name is the name of a wild animal.)
With the people came the FOOD. It was as diverse as the people who brought it! A delicious blackberry pie (the single man told me it was the first pie he’d ever made!), a gourmet corn + feta cheese salad, fresh zucchini cake, pasta salad in a Giant container, deviled eggs, a big bowl of fruit, a vinegary carrot salad, and so much more — too much to name everything. The invitation said to bring a salad or dessert to share, and we grilled hamburgers + hot dogs, and made two kinds of homemade ice cream. I was rather relieved that it turned out perfectly, as we don’t have alot of experience with making ice cream ourselves. (Thanks Cherie for the tips!)
I think my favorite moment of the whole evening was when we were going around the circle introducing ourselves and saying where we live. Jonathan’s Grandpa was explaining that their house has the red tractor on the mailbox. (Emphasis on the red of course) The ornery man who lives on the corner said, “Oh I was going to paint it green on Halloween!” Grandpa replies, pointing his cane at him, “You’d better not! You would be in TROUBLE if you did that!” Oh so funny!The children from across the road tossed corn hole bags, and people stood around in little groups and talked about things like water wells, investment properties, surgeries, and all sorts of other things. As it got dark, people started slowly trickling out, and the remaining few of us sat around the fire and talked.
I’m so glad we finally took the plunge and hosted it, and it seemed like everyone really enjoyed themselves. Hopefully there’s a good thing going now, as it sounds like the family across the road wants to host it next time. 🙂 It was fun to learn to know people better, and to meet a few that I hadn’t met yet. If you are in any way interested in reaching out to your neighbors, this is a great way to do it! Be prepared for a lot of work, but it’ll be worth it. 🙂
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Past posts in The Art of Loving series: