First off, I’ll admit to using any excuse to bake. I love to bake, but I don’t like eating the finished product, especially not day after day. Granted, DH and the two wee ones definitely help out, but they don’t need the extra calories as often as I enjoy baking. But there are times when I can finagle ways to ahem have my cake and eat it, too.
I live in a neighborhood that’s a true neighborhood. When we were looking for a house, we discovered our neighborhood fairly on in our search and decided we liked it. In fact, we liked it enough to wait a year and a half until a house we liked came on the market. Needless to say, yes, that necessitated a move back in with my parents after our previous house sold, but that’s a different story.
Part of why we loved it is that it had sidewalks (unusual in this area) and whenever we drove through it, people were outside. Not only were they outside, but they were outside talking to each other, hanging out, blocking traffic to catch someone’s attention, and the like. That’s where I wanted to raise my kids. Heck, I even found out after moving in that we have a babysitting co-op in my neighborhood (score!).
It took us a year and a half to find our house simply because not that many go on the market. We have 119 houses in our neighborhood (yep, I’m a geek; I counted once), but on average only two to three sell annually. We’ve been here for a year and a half now, and I know of two houses that had sold since then, with the exception of two that just sold, ironically both on my street.
When we were moving in, we had a fairly steady stream of neighbors welcoming us, including some offering to watch our kids while we unpacked and others bearing gifts of brownies. This seemed like the normal thing to me, and I baked for the two new neighbors who had moved in since we did, as well as bringing over a list of handy phone numbers, like the doctor and dentist and vet.
I saw a week ago Friday that lights were on in the house across the street, but that the cars were not the ones of the people who used to live there. I immediately made a mental note to bake something and go introduce myself. I then promptly had a horrible week last week that included a nasty cold. It was Friday before I was healthy and sane enough to try baking. A whole week had gone by, and I was feeling pretty guilty.
I also noticed that the house at the end of the street also was now having some new cars in the driveway, but I have yet to see lights at night. Regardless, I made a double batch of my chocolate chip scones to take to each of the new families.
Friday afternoon, I trundled over with the wee ones to meet the neighbors across the street, as it was obvious they were home. DS proudly held the plate of scones, while DD rang the bell (thank GOD only once, as Grandma has taught them a fun ringing the doorbell game). As the door opened, DS greeted them with “Welcome to the neighborhood. Here are some scones for your breakstick (sic).” They kindly invited us in, and we chatted while the wee ones ran up and down the hallway. So much for the angelic first impression.
As we were talking, she thanked me profusely and said that I was the first neighbor to stop by. Now I felt really horrible. I hadn’t been able to make it over for an entire week, and I was still the first one? I’m still stunned by this. I’m going through the reasons in my head.
It’s been a really cold, long, yucky winter. No one wants to be outside if they don’t have to, so walking over to meet new people is really more of a summer thing than a winter one. But then I think back to the last time I was shoveling snow. Three neighbors stopped while in their cars to talk about the horrible winter. Hmmm.
The previous neighbors really kept to themselves, so maybe no one noticed that there were new people there. I’ll admit to having never met the people across the street, which is particularly sad after reading the first part of this post. In all actuality, I rarely saw them coming or going or working outside. I never saw a moving truck when they left, just noticed that the real estate sign was no longer in the yard. But even with the previous owners having been private people, it has been pretty hard to miss the multiple vehicles and constant lights on in the house since the new neighbors moved in.
The answer I came back to is that maybe greeting new neighbors isn’t all that common. Maybe when we moved in, we were blessed by a confluence of circumstances. DH is a teacher, so people recognized him. It was the beginning of summer, and everyone was outside. We have two small children, so we were visible outside playing, particularly to other families with children. The previous owners of our house had been very social and well-known in the neighborhood, so people wanted to see who was taking their place.
I think we were lucky. But that thought alone depresses me. Why is it so unusual to welcome people new to your universe, be it work or school or neighborhood? My intention that I at least welcome all new neighbors has only strengthened after reflecting on this. The new neighbor was so grateful that someone thought of her and that someone was welcoming her. We ended up chatting probably 20 or 30 minutes.
What do you do when you have people who move into your area? Do you have any traditions in your neighborhood or anything you do yourself?
With that thought, I’m packing up the rest of the scones to go knock on the door of the neighbors at the end of the block, and hopefully they’ll be there. Honest and truly!