When I first moved into our house in New Mexico, the neighbors were quite friendly.
They would say hello, ask how things were, am I getting to know the area, said let them know if we needed anything. You know, odd stuff. In fact, I asked Richard what was going on with all this friendliness. I’m sure he thought I was the odd one asking, and just said it’s them being nice.
Sadly, from the time I had moved out on my own until moving to Albuquerque, I really didn’t know who my neighbors were. For a few places, I wouldn’t have known even what they looked like. We all kept to ourselves. In many ways that was tragic.
For the past fourteen years, we got to know our neighbors pretty well, some more than others, and that was okay. We looked out for one another’s’ places when someone was gone, they helped looked after our kids in emergencies, checked in on us when things weren’t going well—we were there for one another.
While I watched our Indiana home being built, I started to run into the owner’s of the houses going up around ours. Over those months of construction, we got excited for one another when something new was going up, and we commiserated when things fell behind. We got to know about our origins, our stories and how we ended up where we are as we have moved from all over, including from South America.
After we all moved in, since it was winter, we didn’t see as much of one another, which was a little sad. I missed the quick chats and check-ins. So, I did what I enjoy doing a great deal. I baked and shared, and they appreciated it.
My kids, when I made the first batch of banana bread as a house-warming for everyone, wondered what I was doing and why. As a side note, I found that interesting since they knew our neighbors in New Mexico fairly well too and saw how we watched out for one another.
My answer was probably longer than they had wanted. I told them I did it because it makes me feel good. Because sharing is a good thing and helps build relationships, especially sharing food. Because I like our neighbors a great deal as I’ve gotten to know them. Because someday we may need help from one of them. Because it makes the world a better place.
Since then, I’ve made other breads and cookies to share. They have also shared with us. A great chili and brownies, Easter candy, invited to a great meal and homemade apple pie including the crust, a new Brazilian pastry, fruit tart and my first taste of mole which I found delicious, and invited into their homes to chat. I’ve actually felt guilty about not having them over yet, but I’ve had no place to really put them since we are still quite sparse in the furniture department; one of the first things I’d like to do when Richard arrives (just 7 more days and counting down), is have everyone over for a home cooked meal. Then it will be time for an Open House to invite all my friends over, but that is a story for another time.
So, I know it can be scary, and your neighbors might find it odd at first, but make the effort, It just starts with a hello and an introduction. Baking for them is good too, even if they don’t eat it for whatever reason, they will remember the effort and the thought.
Now while I go check my bread, you go say hello to a neighbor! It will be worth it in the long run.