Won’t you be my neighbor?: Getting to know who lives around you
I grew up on one of those streets. You know, the kind where everyone knew everyone and nobody minded that at all. It was a Midwestern cul-de-sac where the moms would notice if a strange car came down the road and would strain to see who it was. My neighborhood friends and I could hang out til it was dark and then we would stay out in someone’s yard to catch fireflies and run around while our parents caught up on life. It was safe and welcoming and homey.
I didn’t realize how special my childhood neighborhood was until we started to move around after I got married. I began to miss the feeling of knowing everyone that lives around you. Whether you need someone to feed your cat while you were gone, or just want to have a cookout on a warm fall evening, it is nice to know the people around you. Add into that having a three-year-old who wants everyone to be his friend and I started seeing how important it is to get to know the people around you.
That is easier said than done though (especially when you move neighborhoods every few years.) After living in five different neighborhood settings, I’ve only had one neighbor that I felt close enough with to borrow cups of sugar or go to in an emergency. I realized though, that it might be my job to reach out and say “Hi!” when we move into a new place. So, we decided to brainstorm a few different ways we could meet our neighbors! We promise, they aren’t (too) crazy:
- Get outside – It might sound a little simplistic, but in order to meet people that live near you, you probably need to spend a considerable amount of time outside. My kids and I love to play outside and we have met several neighbors this way! Warmer months are probably more ideal for this, but then again, you never quite know who you may meet while you are out shoveling some snow!
- Bake something – It used to be customary for the neighbors to bring you something when you are new to the neighborhood, but it really doesn’t happen that often anymore in most neighborhoods. So why not bake a fresh batch of “nice to meet you” cookies and go door-to-door to hand them out? They may give you a strange look at first, but once they see the fresh-baked cookies, they are bound to want to get to know you more!
- Throw a party – We have dear friends that were frustrated that they weren’t meeting their neighbors, so they decided to take the matter into their own hands. They began to plan and throw gatherings for their neighbors. They’ve hosted appetizer open houses and summer ice cream socials and you know what, their neighbors LOVE it and appreciate them!
- Host a garage sale – Any garage sale junkies out there? I can’t tell you how many times I’ve went to one of my neighborhood garage sales and met neighbors. You might even be able to organize a neighborhood garage sale where several different neighbors all host sales.
- Participate in holiday events – Christmas time and (especially) Halloween are great times to get to know people. Think about it. What other time of the year do people come to your door all evening long? Get those candy bowls ready and be sure to chat with the adults who stop by with their kiddos.
- Get involved – Lots of neighborhoods and communities have organizations that work on the upkeep of the area, plan events or work on making the neighborhood safe. These types of groups are usually filled with people that want to get to know their neighbors and make the area they live a better place.
See… it isn’t that difficult! Maybe someday we will live on a street where we know everyone, but for now, I’m off to bake my next batch of “nice to meet you” cookies!
-by Emily Robertson