We have lived in the same house since 2005 and really don’t have any plans to move anytime soon. We live in an older neighborhood filled with all ages of families. It is near shopping, dining, and downtown. We can get to several major highways and interstates relatively quickly. The sidewalks are very walkable, lined by beautiful mature trees. It is simply home.
But one thing that has always bugged me about our neighbood, is that while everyone is very friendly, everyone definitely keeps to themselves. We are usually the only people out in the yard, biking up and down the sidewalks and making a general ruckus. Many of the people on our street grew up in this neighborhood and must like that it isn’t a new subdivision with block parties and progressive dinners. So while I would like a bit more of a social neighborhood, we have gradually adapted to the “keeping to yourself” model over the years.
Lately though, I have been feeling more and more like it is time for that to change. I have been on the lookout for ways to get to know and serve the people in my neighborhood. I long for the neighborhoods like the ones of my youth. Where borrowing a cup of sugar was the norm. All the kids played in the streets until dinner. We all knew each other and knew what was going on in each other’s lives. I know that still exists, but it often comes with a side of HOA rules and cookie cutter houses and treeless lots stuck out in mass suburbia.
A new family moved in two doors down late this summer and I kept meaning to get over to meet them and welcome them to the neighborhood. Then our end of the summer was crazy and then the beginning of the school year was crazy and then it just seemed awkward and excuses, excuses, excuses.
Sometimes God really wants to get my attention when I am slacking off in listening to those seeds he plants in my brain. So in my inbox lands a campaign from the Fred Rogers Company celebrating being a good neighbor. I love Mr. Rogers so much. He was such a huge part of my childhood. He began every show asking us to be his neighbor. And now his legacy lives on over at WontYouBeMyNeighbor.org, an amazing destination that celebrates neighborliness all across the country.
We decided to have a day of neighborliness. The day after Halloween, the kids and I made up a double batch of my Post Halloween cookies and set out to “be a good neighbor.” First stop was our new neighbor. Lo and behold, when we welcomed her we found out her best friend is another mom from school and she also knows Hannah’s second grade teacher really well. I have a feeling we will be able to see much more of each other this summer when it is safe to go outside again. I hope to continue to be intentional with her.
Next we took a plate of cookies to our elderly neighbor. She has not been in good health for about a year and her daughter and grandson have had to move in to help care for her and her adult daughter who has Down’s syndrome. We actually interact with them a fair amount, but don’t get enough chances to serve them with all they have on their plate. It was an easy way to bless them.
After that we walked down to the end of our street to the local fire department. Our kids have all gone there on field trips at one time or another and I knew the firemen would appreciate some home baked cookies. Plus my kids thought it was pretty cool that we got to talk to real firemen. Finally we dropped off a plate to the people who serve Lily in youth group and to her youth group leader who is a college student. She assured me that she and her roomates were very excited about the delivery.
This was NOT a hard or inconvenient thing to do. It probably took a few hours of a Saturday from start to finish. But it also involved a lot of great time with my kids cooking and scheming up who we could bless with cookies. It was so much fun seeing them get excited about giving and blessing our neighbors. I am hoping it is just the start of something that sticks.
The Fred Rogers Company would love it if you would share your stories of being a good neighbor on social media. You can share a special story about yourself or recognize someone else who has demonstrated neighborliness. Simply post your story to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #BeMyNeighbor. Your stories will be shared on the site, inspiring others to do neighborly acts of their own. I love how it could be the start of a movement. Or really just a continuation of a movement Mr. Rogers started so many years ago.
Also don’t miss the #BeMyNeighbor Twitter party this Wednesday, November 19 at 2 p.m. ET. There will be trivia questions and great Mister Rogers and Daniel Tiger prize packs (another Just Jilly love!!) I will be there and would love to see you there.
Disclosure: This post is brought to you by the Fred Rogers Company and The Motherhood. All opinions are my own.