I’ve always always wanted to live in a fun neighborhood. One full of families, and block parties, and sharing of sugar when needed, etc… Last night Jeff and I invited some of the families in our neighborhood over for s’more fun, swimming and a movie. And I realized, God had finally placed me in “that” neighborhood!
From the time I was 5, I grew up in the country. The west Texas Country is NOT a glamorous place. It’s desert and rattle snakes, everywhere the eye could see. But it didn’t take this extrovert long (even as a 5-year-old) to make friends with the 3 neighbors (within a 3/4 mile range) we had. There was an elderly couple at the front of our little dirt road, whose house looked as if it used to be a church, with a steeple on the front of it. They were my favorite to go and visit. They had the new model fridge. Remember, this is 1980. Their new style fridge had a little slot on the front to insert a cup to fill it with ice. The best part was that you could choose regular cubes or shaved ice. Duh, right? Shaved all the way. This couple didn’t have any children and therefore no grandchildren of their own, but they welcomed me in every time I rang the door bell. It’s not like I was calling ahead either. Totally unannounced.
But that’s just a part of that generation, don’t you think? I used to love how my Grandma and Grandpa were friends with all of their neighbors! Up until my Grandpa’s stroke at age 90, he could name off every family in the surrounding homes. But what has happened since then!? Why have things changed? Why have we locked ourselves into our homes and made it clear, no-one else is welcome until properly invited? Recently I came across this hilarious clip from standup comedian, Sebastian Maniscalco about this exact topic…
This is hilarious, but so true, right!? So, what is the difference between now and 30 years ago? What has changed to make us less neighborly? I believe the answer is twofold. First, we have access to the world now via the internet. Social media let’s us stay in touch with people from our past that we would have never kept in touch with other wise. And what’s more, we can watch their daily activities. I was talking to a friend recently and she said, she’ll find herself flipping through Facebook to find out how “So-and-so’s” ultrasound went. And then it dawned on her that she’s allowing this action (Facebook scrolling) take the place of actual interaction. We mistakenly feel as if we have interacted and engaged friends, due to social media, but in truth you haven’t said a word to anyone.
The second pitfall that keeps us from real neighborly connection is what I call the “Martha Stewart Syndrome”. Our generation (with internet again to blame) has fallen prey to this perfection mindset, that we must have a carefully thought through AND appropriately themed tables cape with a 4 coarse meal prepared in order to open the door to friends.
One amazing skill I learned from my mom was that age-old “Martha-vs-Mary” thing. Martha was the worker. How ironic! I doubt her last name was Stewart, but Jesus is the original foreshadower here, haha! Mary wanted to sit at the feet of her guest and soak up every word. Jesus made it clear, Mary chose correctly. The connection is what is important. My mom did this well. She wasn’t Martha Stewart with the proper decor, but everyone had a blast at her gatherings, because she engaged them.
I, on the other hand, have battled the “Martha Stewart Syndrome” a bit. At least I do until everyone is actually in my home (or backyard) then I get so involved in conversation that I forget I’m the hostess! Haha! Anyway, my point here is to encourage you to share your sugar, so to speak. Keep your door accessible. Even hang out in your front yard some! Engage your community! After all, how are we to “Love our neighbor as ourself” if we don’t even know our neighbor!!
Last night was fun. We’ve lived in this home for a year now, and that’s how long it took me to FINALLY do this! But I met some awesome neighbors who took my ball and ran with it! We have talks of ladies movie night, block parties, food trucks and more summer adventures to come, all because I opened my door and dropped the syndrome.
So, what will you do? How will you connect with your neighborhood? Happy Family Friday!