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.