I love the era of the 50’s. Front porch visits and neighbor helping neighbor seemed to be the norm rather than the exception.
Today, we live in our little compartmentalized 4-3-3 with rear entry garage. Forget neighbor helping neighbor. Forget the front porch conversations. There are days on end I don’t even see the front of my house from the outside unless I am the one going out to get the mail!
It is sad that in our neighborhood we know the families who live directly on either side of us. That’s it. Out of 15+ homes on both sides of the street on our block. Two families.
Oh sure, our family talks all the time about how we should take cookies to the new neighbor that moved in across the street. She appears to live alone and has maybe a daughter and grand kids that come to visit on the weekends that we watch from our window as we eat dinner. We even went outside once to talk to the kids. Well, actually that was Ray Don yelling at them to quit throwing rocks at my mom’s car, so that might not really count. Anyway, we are going to do that, soon. (She moved in 5 months ago.) We talk every year about how at Christmas we want to make homemade bread loaves to randomly deliver to our neighbors to introduce ourselves. (We have lived here 5 years.)
We talk…a lot. We do..a lot less.
However, recently, our family was unexpectedly able “to do.”
On Halloween this year, our 12 year old was with a friend celebrating his birthday and due to an eye infection our 6 year old had, we were not able to go to our church’s fall festival. So, the plan was to simply let Hope dress up in her Snow White dress and help answer the door for the trick-or-treaters.
After getting her ready, she says that she at least needs to go to our neighbors and trick-or-treat. Ok, I can handle that. We know TWO. This should not take long!
So, her Daddy and I take her to the first neighbor’s house. They aren’t home. So, she asks if we can go on down the block. Sure.
We quickly began to figure out that Hope trick or treating on our block was just possibly Divinely orchestrated. You see, the other doors began to open. And a funny thing happened. Introductions naturally flowed. Conversations happened.
We met a sweet school teacher that we had no idea lived four houses down and across the street.
We met a young man that lives almost directly across the street that we have watched come and go for years.
We laughed with neighbors at their spastic dogs that helped to answer their doors as we walked up.
Then we met L.
I will call her L, in case she wouldn’t appreciate me writing about her without her permission. She is a lady probably in her 70’s that lives across the street and just three houses down. Hope rang her door bell and waited. We could see through the open blinds the TV was on and the back of someones head sitting in a recliner. We waited, and waited, but no one came. So we went on. While at the next house, I look up and see a slow-moving elderly lady in a night gown. She is waving something in her hand.
She says, “Come back!” in what I think was supposed to be a loud voice, but was more of a gentle raised tone. So, we do. As we walk up, she is eager to give Hope two packages of orange crackers with peanut butter in them. She starts apologizing because she forgot it was “candy night.” Hope says thank you, and we introduce ourselves as her neighbors.
Then her next words I could not let go of…
“Oh, and I’m sorry if I don’t seem neighborly. I am partially disabled and don’t get out much. I wish I could.”
As we stand outside, L in her nightgown, my daughter dressed up like Snow White, and me in sweats and no make-up (because I wasn’t really going to see anyone) I realize this ~
I can get out and be neighborly. But I choose not to. L doesn’t have that choice anymore.
I do have a choice.
We finished the block and made it back home. It took less than 45 minutes, but it was the best Halloween ever.
And, for the record, neither of the two neighbors we did know were home.
So, I can sit and dream of an era of yesteryear, lamenting over the differences of this generation from that one. Or, I can make a choice to bring a bit of yesteryear to today!
Our family WILL make that bread this Christmas.
I will choose…to sit on my front porch and lend a hand to my neighbors.