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Neighbors to Friends
Photo: Jenny Erickson
Wrapping myself warmly against the biting cold, I tucked my still-warm-from-the-oven gift under my arm and herded my equally well-bundled youngsters out the door in front of me. “This won’t take long,” I assured them. “They only live four houses down.”

Our new neighbors had just moved in, and recalling the gracious example of my own mother, I had carefully baked a beautiful loaf of bread with which to welcome the newcomers to our neighborhood.

We trudged down the road, knocked the snow off our boots on their porch, and rang the bell. The lady of the house answered, and in great surprise invited us inside after we had introduced ourselves and stated our mission. She received our fragrant offering of friendship while exclaiming incredulously, “I’ve heard of things like this, but I didn’t know people actually DID it!”

“We do in this neighborhood,” I smiled. “We all know each other and watch out for each other’s interests.”

Although spending a pleasant hour or two each week chatting with neighbors over the back fence may be a thing of the past, knowing and caring about your neighbors is possible, even in today’s fast-paced society.

If you or your neighbors have young children, it is usually fairly easy to meet and greet one another. Children usually do not suffer from the inhibitions of adulthood. But even if your neighborhood is mostly comprised of “very busy- rarely home” individuals, there are ways to connect.

Neighborhood Barbeque

When the weather is nice, plan a neighborhood barbeque or potluck on a weekend. Invite everyone on your block (or within a predetermined area). If possible, set up tables and have it right in someone’s front yard. People will feel more comfortable than going inside if it’s a first contact.

At holiday times, go door-to-door with small gifts, such as homemade cookies or a bunch of flowers. If you haven’t met your neighbors yet, you can leave a card with your full name and phone number. When a friendship is underway, offer to pet sit or watch a neighbor’s house when s/he is out of town.

When neighbors move in and out frequently it may be discouraging to be friendly. And some people clearly do not want to establish friendships. Respect their wishes for privacy, but don’t give up on a friendly wave when you do see them. Most people really do want to be good neighbors. Some even become life-long friends and seem more like family than just neighbors. In cases of emergency, a neighbor nearby can be more valuable than a family member who is far away!

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2013 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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