Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Confessions of a Shivering Stranger

I have a confession to make.

I'm at it again.

For the second time this year and in this neighborhood, I carried hand-published photo cards and a flimsy cardboard plate of food to our neighbors. "Hi, we're the new neighbors from the yellow house on the corner," the card started. "Merry Christmas..."

Slipping and sliding up the snowy driveways, I smiled to no-one in the chilled air, in case someone was peering at me through windows. Trying my best to display a friendly, safe, non-telemarketer image, I rang doorbells at four homes.

My four year old scurried beside me, ascending crunchy iced snowdrifts on the side of the road, a padded figure in a bundled blue jacket and hood. It was colder than I thought it would be, and my hands started to hurt from the chill after the first driveway. Daniel too was mitten-less, so I gave him mine, soft one-size-fits-all black knit ones that hung largely off his finger tips.

The first two homes were quiet, unresponsive to my knocks, so we slid the plates of chocolate-dipped pretzel rods between the screen door and the main door. Wedged awkwardly up, the home-made cards taped to the plates whipped our printed faces in the winter wind.

Skipping and sliding around the corner, we headed down the street to the houses that backed directly up to ours. At the next home, my knocks went unanswered even though the blue rocking recliner chair seen through the glass window suddenly veered into rocking spasms, as if someone had just flown off it. I grinned and looked away respectfully. Expecting to hear steps descending to the door any minute, I shifted feet and smiled tentatively at the ground. Silence. Peering up through the narrow glass window, I saw the blue recliner slowing to a stop. Silence. Smiling wryly, understanding an apprehension of strangers, I stooped, set the plate of treats in plain view, and retreated down the driveway, holding the floppy hand of a bundled blue toddler.

At the last house, the knocks again descended into an empty house with occupants probably out for last minute Christmas errands. Resting pretzels on a creaking wooden porch step, Daniel and I turned and headed back home. Breathing in deeply, relaxed and laughing, we kicked ice blocks, sending them skidding down the road.

My poor neighbors. I will leave them in peace now. I just never again want to hear a neighbor say wistfully, "We've lived here seven years and this is the first time someone has introduced themselves to me."

Merry Christmas, friends. How do you like to show warmth to your neighbors?

I'm thankful for chances to meet and smile at my neighbors. 

Linking with Shanda and counting gifts with Ann.




Photo credit

9 comments:

Brian Miller said...

good job being a good neighbor...funny the piece i wrote for tomorrow has to do with neighbors...and one of the things i do to pave the way in meeting them is praying the names on the mailboxes...i dunno what they need but they are getting it...ha...

Jennifer Dougan said...

Hi Brian,

Funny the things God talks to his people about around the world and nation, huh? Yes, I was praying for the houses as I walked too. I wish the names were on the boxes here. They aren't. May the people near you know they are loved... I'm thankful for an Abba who knows their names and their needs. We just get to walk, smile, bring random foods, and pray namelessly.

Have a good night,
Jennifer
www.jenniferdougan.com

A Proverbs 31 Wife said...

How fun!!! I like to do this for our neighbors as well, We do know most of them now. I will never forget our first neighborhood though, it was a small culdesack, the type of neighborhood where the kids came over and played in our backyard, we seriously hung over the fence talking to our neighbors.... we really missed it when we moved.

Alecia Simersky said...

Glad I'm not alone! We did this last weekend, I made the whole family go with me :) they hated it! but thankfully for us we only went to the ones right around us and they did answer the door, whew! Neighbors and neighborhoods aren't the same as they were when we were kids...and it's kinda sad.

all6popes said...

Pretzel Rods are the best! I wish I was your neighbor. :0)

Laurie Collett said...

Your neighbors are blessed to have you! Praying for those around us to know Him is also a wonderful way to share His love.

Thanks so much for visiting and commenting on Saved by Grace!
Your blog is a blessing and I am now following it, and I invite you to follow Saved by Grace also:
http://savedbygracebiblestudy.blogspot.com/
Love in Him,
Laurie Collett

AJ said...

I just delivered our cookies to our neighbors! I've been doing it for 5 years. I think they expect it now... can't let them down! ;) Just keep trying, they will eventually come to the door and appreciate the effort. Glad you left them a picture, so they know who gave them the treats!! (The third year, 3 of my neighbors began reciprocating... cookies and oranges and a plate of tamales... it's worth it!)

BTW - You can comment on my site again, I fixed the problem!

Jayne said...

Good example to set for your kids!We have lived in this neighborhood for 22 years. We were one of the firsts to build and move into our neighborhood. As new neighbors built, I would go and meet them. A couple have moved away and I have gone to introduce myself to the new ones. That is about as far as it goes. You would think here in the south we would be friendlier. I have seriously thought about having them over for a bon-fire or just a cook out. Bring your own meat and we'll do the fixings. Much prayer is needed about this. It was easier to meet people when the kids were little. We were the Kool-aid house back then.

Brandee Shafer said...

My neighbors are all related to one another. We plunked down among them on a gravel road. They've really looked out for and helped us.