On the eve of Thanksgiving Day, I sit here and reflect on all of the things I am thankful for and how my favorite holiday came to pass. Well, that’s not *exactly* the truth. While I am sitting here, thinking about everything I am thankful for, the real reason I began to think about the origins of my favorite holiday was the rebroadcasting of a holiday classic (and a personal childhood favorite) “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving”. While always adorable, there is a scene where the Peanuts gang sat around the table as Linus recalls the story of the Mayflower pilgrims leaving Plymouth, England and landing in America, in hopes of finding prosperity in a new land free from religious persecution. And in the current state of the world, that alone made me stop and pause on how much history does indeed repeat itself. Always the impressive history buff that he is, Linus goes into great detail about the 66-day voyage, the illnesses that plagued the surviving passengers, and how Squanto and the neighboring Abenaki & Wampanoag tribes took the pilgrims under their wing as they taught them how to grow corn, extract sap from maple trees, catch fish in rivers & avoid poisonous plants. And after the first successful pilgrim harvest, a celebration was had by all, thus creating what is to be believed to be the first thanksgiving.
Now, we all know that these neighborly gestures made by the Native Americans didn’t end in a happily ever after story. In fact, the result was the exact opposite of your typical heartwarming outpouring. But…the idea of neighborly interaction did not die with the first thanksgiving. In fact, if you watch old timey movies and television shows, there is always a lovely wife with a basket of baked goodies welcoming the new family on the block to the neighborhood. It’s was seen as a simple gesture to introduce themselves and make the new family feel welcome in their new surroundings. And in these cookie cutter stories, the family becomes a part of this little community and partakes in the typical activities the neighborhood had developed and lives happily in their new-found community.
And while there are still lots of these picture perfect neighborhoods still in existence, for the most part, it isn’t quite the episode of Happy Days we have all come to expect out of a move to a new home. Yes, there are still welcoming committees ready to welcome a new family into the neighborhood, but these committees have somewhat changed due to things like location, HOAs, and well…it’s a sign of the times. Nowadays it is the local businesses that are doing the welcoming, through various advertisements & special offers for the new neighbors, or the HOA itself with flyers about community events and the like. As a stranger to the area, these are always welcomed and necessary to transition smoothly. It is easy for a new arrival to get lost in the crowd and left feeling overwhelmed.
But does it have to be this way? Are the days of friendly neighborly gestures out of the question? Sure, these information packets are useful, but it doesn’t leave a heartwarming touch to their arrival. There are services that can handle a lovely “welcome to the neighborhood” gift, but it really shouldn’t have to be so impersonal. You’re the neighbor, you should make the time to do something special. After all, how often do you REALLY get new neighbors? So, utilize your strengths. If you love to cook, get in the kitchen and whip up a favorite recipe. If you’re handy, offer your help with something they may need as they begin to get settled in. If you’re crafty, construct a lovely housewarming gift. Break the proverbial ice. It doesn’t have to be extravagant, it just has to be heartfelt. Any gesture will surely be appreciated and you never know, you may end up with more in common than you realize.
So, love thy neighbor…you never know when you may run out of a cup of sugar.
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