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As a child, I had never lived in one place for more than 3 years.
We had moved so many times in my life that by the time I graduated high school (in 10th grade, no less) I had been to 10 different schools in 3 different states, 7 different cities. To say that I never got a chance to know my neighbors is rather an understatement. Building those relationships was nearly impossible when you would just be moving a year later.
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Now that I am older, my family and I have a different lifestyle. We have been in our current house for 9 years now and have no plans to move any time soon. We have had a chance to get to know our neighbors a bit, but I still struggle with those face to face relationships.
With the advent of social media like Facebook, Twitter, and others it makes it really easy to “hide” and put only your best face to the public eye. As we all know, that isn't how life really is, though.
For example, I can show you a picture of my garden, all green and lush. The camera angle that I choose to take it from will show you nothing but pure beauty. My neighbors see a different story. They see the unmowed grass, the bare spots from the chickens digging around, and the missing shingles from the roof. They see my life as it really is – LIVED.
Of course, getting to know them is important, and I will share with you three reasons why.
You can borrow tools and supplies when needed.
We have to re-shingle our roof this year, and our neighbor across the road is sharing with us his scaffolding so we can do the job safely. He's a roofer by trade, and has also offered to help with the job itself, in exchange for cold beverages and hot pizza afterwards. The savings on having to rent the scaffolding will be incredible. The help of re-shingling the roof very much appreciated, but the relationship with a friend is priceless.
If you have an emergency, it's much easier to go to someone you know.
We are on our own in this vast state, meaning the nearest blood relative is 1,000 miles away. With small children, it was nice to know our next door neighbor well enough to trust her when my husband needed to go into the hospital. We had someone who could watch our kids and feed them a meal when needed during a difficult time. The kids love her like another grandparent, and she truly cares for them as well.
I enjoy early spring, sitting and chatting with her while we take a break from our respective garden clean up chores. I have learned so much from her about homemaking, and making do with what you have.
You have others to share your bounty with.
When my garden is producing in mass quantities, and the chickens are laying dozens of eggs per week, it's nice to be able to share that with my neighbors. I love the joy and appreciation from them as I hand over baskets of fresh veggies and eggs to share. It was a great feeling to share with our recently widowed neighbor and show him support during a difficult time.
Getting to know your neighbors when you are the “new kid on the block” isn't hard. Remember back in the old days, we used to have a “Welcome Wagon” when you moved into a new neighborhood? It was someone coming to your new house, with a basket of goodies to welcome you. It usually had a phone book, coupons for local eateries, and even some kitchen towels or oven mitts.
You can do the reverse. Bake up a pan of brownies, and share them with your neighbor next time they are outside.
Do you garden? Take over some fresh tomatoes or other veggies in the summer.
Host a “block” party and invite some of your neighbors over for a cook out. Chances are, you will make a lot of new friends!
Of course, if you live in a small town like I do, you can also take advantage of the fire downtown, when everyone steps outside to watch, or during a tornado warning when everyone is outside looking at the sky to get to know people….