My all time favorite Christmas movie, and one of my favorite movies in general, is It’s a Wonderful Life. It’s a classic feel-good story, and many parts of it have influenced the way I live my life. For example, there is a scene where George and Mary Bailey bring the Martinis a housewarming basket filled with bread, salt and wine.
“Bread that this house may never know hunger.”
“Salt that life may always have flavor.”
“And wine, that joy and prosperity may reign forever.”
To me, that is the epitome of being neighborly – sharing what you have and celebrating the joys and successes of those in your community, while also being there for them when the trials of life appear.
As we become more and more connected by technology, we tend to seclude ourselves from our surroundings. My mom tells me stories about how she would play outside all day long – her parents knew all the neighbors and she was playing with their children. The community helped to watch everyone and keep them safe.
However, slowly, porch lights are turning off, privacy fences are rising higher and our once nightly porch sits are turning into television sits with a phone in hand. The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. We still have time to connect with our neighbors and really create a thriving and beautiful community. Here are five ways to connect with your neighbors and bring back community.
A Small Gift Goes a Long Way
Every year, my mom starts baking about two weeks before Christmas. I kid you not, the woman does not stop baking until every tray on the list is filled to the point of wobbly cookies falling off during delivery. There are usually around 20 trays to be delivered, and they are piled high with hand-me-down recipes in our family – fudge, chocolate drop cookies and Holidates are just a few that make the cut. Although 20 is the norm, I remember one year when I was in elementary school that she pulled out the ironing board for extra counter space because the kitchen counters and dining room table were already filled with trays. We spent the entirety of the next day delivering trays – everyone was so happy and appreciative. It’s a great way to show that you care, and that you’re thinking about them.
A Small Gesture Goes a Long Way
There is an unending list of to-dos that come with owning a house. When I was in high school, my mom worked long hours and didn’t have time to mow the small patch of grass in our front yard (I am highly allergic, so we only had a tiny patch to mow). Our neighbor had been using our lawn mower and started mowing our strip of grass as well. To this day, it’s something that he still does. It’s a small gesture, but we appreciate it deeply.
Invite Neighbors Inside Your Gate
It’s probably a safe assumption that you have a lovely fence around your yard because you have such a great backyard. Imagine filling that yard with laughter, games and shared meals. Try, at least once a month, to invite your neighbors over and to have a great time. If you’re unsure of what to do, think of doing a game night, a wine pairing night or dessert and coffee. Having something to do will serve as a great ice breaker.
Start an Evening Walk Routine
It’s amazing what a walk will do to expand your neighborhood. Your home isn’t the only place where you can have a presence. By walking the same route daily, and interacting with others outdoors, you can meet a host of new people. It’s a great way to expand your neighborhood and bring everyone closer together.
Host a Neighborhood Activity
Potlucks, holiday parties and yard sales are great ways to connect with neighbors. My personal favorite is a community yard sale. Everyone has stuff to get rid of, and group yard sales always bring a crowd. Reach out to your neighbors to find a weekend that works for a majority and start organizing. Delegate each neighbor a task: publicity, snacks, etc. At the end, consider bringing everyone together for a cook out!