Nearly ten years ago we moved out of our first home. We were young, everyone around us was young, either in vet school or graduate school, and no one really paid attention to the idea of being neighbors or neighborly. We were all in transition knowing this was a place to rest our heads for a few years and then move on to bigger and better things.
When we purchased our first house it was in a newly developing neighborhood. We had hoped to buy a house in an established neighborhood with a yard and trees, but there just wasn't much on the market in the small town where we would be living. We bought a new house, planted grass, put in bushes, put up curtains, and tried to turn this house into our home.
The day we moved in to our house there was a HUGE thunderstorm that caused us to loose power for almost 24 hours. Within a short time of the power going out, we had two neighbors (who we hadn't even met yet) come to the door with power cords so we could plug into their generators to keep our sump pump running (otherwise our basement would have flooded).
We lived in that house and neighborhood for 7 years. Our neighbors became some of our closest friends. They were people I could call on if I was running short on kitchen ingredients or to help watch kids spur of the moment. They were people who welcomed us home with our first two children. They were the people we would spend time with in the evenings in our backyard - pushing kids on the swings, catching them on the slide, and playing ball.
I liked our house but I LOVED our neighborhood and our neighbors. They made our small town feel like home. There were nights spent on decks watching fireworks or listening to music from downtown during the summer festival.
Two and a half years ago we made the decision to move out of state. One of the hardest things was leaving my neighbors. I knew we had been blessed to be part of a wonderful neighborhood for those seven years.
The day before we moved into our house here we met our next door neighbors. We learned they were Midwestern transplants like us and there was an instant connection. Within our first week here they had introduced us to their friends, had us over for dinner, and had taken us to a baseball game. They were so wonderful about making us feel at home, so far away from everyone and everything we knew. They graciously answered my questions about garbage pick up, where to go grocery shopping, and the most convenient places to mail packages and get stamps.
We have come to rely on our neighbors as our family. We celebrate birthdays and holidays together, share dinners or desserts on a regular basis, and serve as backup spur of the moment babysitters for each other.
This past weekend someone told me " I hope you know how lucky you are to have such great neighbors." I don't think I honestly realized what a blessing it is to have great neighbors. I just assumed it was like this for other people as well. I have come to realize we have been truly blessed, not once but twice with terrific neighbors who are more like family to us than friends.