Today I am sitting outside on an unusually cool day for a Minnesota summer. I had the day off, took my kids to have lunch with a good friend of ours (and the lady who happens to be CJ's teacher for the upcoming school year) and now find myself with a few free moments to myself. Today also happens to be my 20th wedding anniversary, but I covered that in the post where Jim and I got away for a long weekend 2 weeks ago.
No, today I wanted to take a few minutes to brag about some of the people that affect my life and the lives of my family almost daily, our neighbors. It always amazes me when I talk about my neighbors with my co-workers or other friends. I get that "deer in the headlights" look when they find out that not only do I know my neighbors, but that we actually talk, hang out and do things together!
Last night was "National Night Out", a night where the community leaders encourage you to get out and meet your neighbors, socialize and find out who you actually live next to. The idea is that by knowing who lives in the neighborhood you cut down on potential crime.
We moved into this cul de sac 13 years ago and the thought of leaving would be tough (and we have thought about it for a possible job relocation). Our neighbors are extended family. It's almost a "Mayberry" type atmosphere, I say almost because we do have "the bully". It is a cul de sac where if you are sitting outside, people yell "hi" or pull up their lawn chairs and join you. It's the place where in the winter after a big snow storm you have neighbors going from driveway to driveway shoveling, snow blowing and sweeping until every one is done. If you are away in the summer, someone always mows your grass or takes your trash out, you don't ask, you just know for the most part that someone is doing it!
In the summer you can always find the teens and the younger kids hanging out together, swimming, playing kickball, making treats or even just sitting on the patio swing reading. Being a working mom, it's wonderful to know that my youngest not only has his sisters looking out for him, but the others as well. It's also a great neighborhood in that we're always willing to lend a helping hand to one another. CJ started his summer stretch program, since it gets out at 11:00 a.m. when Jim and I are at work, we have neighbors that have been willing to run and get him for us so that he can take advantage of this opportunity. When the "regulars" are not available, someone else has pitched in.
When someone is ill, in the hospital or experiences a death in the family, you can count on the neighbors to help with meals, send flowers or even take up a collection to help with a gift card or such. We're always looking out for one another. The kids respect the seniors in the cul de sac and the seniors enjoy the kids. Yards get trampled, trees get climbed, everyone's driveway is everyone else's and the middle of the cul de sac is the football and baseball field. As one of the moms has said, "we're not raising grass, we're raising kids."
We have seen two of our own go off to war as they served our country in the Marines, and we hugged when they returned safely to us. We have shared at going to weddings, seeing our teens graduate from high school and go off to college and we've rejoiced when babies have been born. When our real families come to visit they are soon known by this wonderful extended family and look forward to returning visits to catch up with everyone.
Best friends have been made in this cul de sac and they become life long friends as the kids move through grade school, middle school and then high school. We cheer on the sports teams, we support one each kids fund raisers and the guys have even gone on fishing trips together with the boys. As a neighborhood we have gone a few times as a group to pack Christmas bags for homeless men at the Mission.
Raising our kids here has been wonderful, I will always be thankful that they were given the chance to grow up in this kind of a neighborhood. I hope that the lessons they have learned here, the friends that they have made, the way they have learned to look out for others both young and old are those things that they will take with them as they walk their own journeys.
Yes, while others see "National Night Out" as a chance to introduce themselves to their neighbors, we see it as one more night on a calendar of many dates to come together and enjoy a gift of friendship that others may not have with their neighbors.
It was also a night to just have a little fun too!
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