My street has been lined with moving trucks. Our neighbors (that we loved) have moved out. New neighbors (that we hope to love) have moved in.
My brain quickly got to work. I needed to procure the ideal welcome gift for someone fresh to our neighborhood.
I stress over these things but usually stick to a recurring theme: bring something cheerful, something sweet, and something memorable (it’s difficult to recall all the names/ faces/ homes that come with moving somewhere new).
I had a heads up that my new neighbors moved here from France. I knew this because one of my other neighbors came by, knocked on my door, and said, “Kelly, our new neighbors are from France. You should meet them and probably write about it for your column.”
You gotta love neighbors- they really are always looking out for you.
I purchased an orchid (something cheerful), wrapped up some cherry cordials (something sweet), and wrote a card introducing my family. As for something memorable…my daughter carefully selected a sticker of Peppa Pig dressed in her finest French attire (Breton stripes and beret). Off we went.
On the walk, my daughter announced that when the door opened, she was going to call out, “Bonjour!” and “Si vous plait” to the new neighbors (other than pain au chocolat, these are the only French words she knows).
We knocked. We greeted. My daughter bonjour-ed and si vous plait-ed. Everyone chuckled. We learned a little about the family and their dog. We pointed out our house and shared our excitement for their new adventure. They suggested we grab dinner sometime.
It was a lovely exchange. As we walked back home, I was reminded of the power in neighborhood friendships. Recently, with documentaries and films about famed television neighbor Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the concept of being a good neighbor has never been more important nor relative. His show ran for more than 30 years and now airs in animated form, in a spinoff titled Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (a big hit in my house). What I like most about Mr. Rogers and his shows are this: every person is considered a neighbor. And neighbors are our friends.
The good news is that it’s not too late to meet your neighbors- literally any time is a good time for an introduction. Despite my welcome protocol of gift-giving, just a friendly hello is enough to get the ball rolling. You never know, you could be meeting your new best friend.
When my garage door is left open, when skunks are trotting down the street, when a holiday rolls around, when my kids hit baseballs into their yards, and when the time just feels right…my neighbors don’t hesitate to reach out and give me a call. Sometimes a text. An email. A knock on the door. The shared care is palpable.
I’ll confess, I am deeply thankful for my neighbors- old ones from my childhood, memorable ones from my years in Chicago, new ones who are working through moving boxes, and ones I haven’t even met yet. We may live on the same street, but we are linked through far more than just addresses.