Oh sheesh… playing catch-up on my gratitude posts after a busy weekend! For Day 7, this past Saturday, I can’t think of anything more fitting than my neighbours.
About nine years ago, my at-the-time next-door neighbour invited me to a “ladies’ Christmas party”, a tradition that had been going on informally among Glenelm women for some years. I’m by no means a extrovert or a party person, but we were still relatively new to the area, I was on mat leave with a six-month old baby and I was keen to meet some new people, so I accepted the invitation. It turned out to be a fateful decision as it was there that I met one of those “connectors” that Malcolm Gladwell talks about – a person who knows everyone and facilitates connections freely and generously for everyone. To my surprise, she had been reading my blog, so we quickly found common ground and she left quite an impression on me!
Turns out, this lovely woman lived across the back lane from me, and she asked if I knew the new mother who lived a few doors down from me, who had a baby almost the same age. I didn’t; in fact, I didn’t even have a clue who lived there. Within a few weeks, she’d orchestrated a small get-together at her house so that she could match-make us. This was the beginning of two beautiful, cherished friendships with people who both live within a stone’s throw from me.
Well, fast-forward almost a decade and the three of us are still getting together: sometimes in small groups, sometimes one-on-one, and sometimes at larger neighbourhood events. This past Saturday (Day 7), we were all together again for what has become an annual holiday tradition: a lively evening of (indoor) carolling along with many more neighbourhood folks.
And though over the past few years I’ve been involved in helping to organize tons of neighbourhood events, this one is especially dear to me because it’s all about my deepest neighbourhood relationships, and the shared connections many of us have formed. As I looked around the music-filled room, and caught the eyes of and shared a smile with many dear friends, I felt almost overflowing with gratitude and peace. It is such a lucky thing to have neighbours who take care of each other when times are hard, and to celebrate with when times are good. Neighbours you could ask for help anytime, and who know they could ask the same of you. I try never to take it for granted.
There have been lots of changes to the street over the years. Sometimes these changes are good and exciting, other times they’re hard and overwhelming. We’ve lost wonderful neighbours when they passed away, or moved out of province, or just out of the neighbourhood. We’ve also dealt with difficult situations related to criminal activity; though I don’t wish that on anyone, nothing brings you closer to your neighbours that knowing that you’re watching out for each other and you’re in that tough situation together.
I hope you have neighbours like mine…and that you’ll do something special with them over the holidays!