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The Season of Good Neighbors

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I love my neighborhood. My husband and I worked and saved for years to afford a home in this section of town with good schools, modest homes, decent yards and a short commute to work. What we neglected to count among the benefits of decision was the general neighborliness of the place. At first, I didn’t feel I fit in among the moms of the street. They all seemed so close and inter-dependent. “Don’t worry,” they’d comfort me. “When your daughter starts school, you’ll see how fast you’ll get to know everyone and be a part of the community.” But I’m happy to report that, still three years away from Kindergarten, I’m already feeling the love. It was one little gesture that crystallized it for me. We arrived home from 5 days in Maine for Thanksgiving to find that a kind neighbor had collected all our newspapers, which we neglected to stop delivery on, and put them on our covered side porch, out of the rain and wind. It was just a little thing that gave us a sense of belonging, like the bonding we do with the family two doors down when we team up to shovel the sidewalk and driveway for the elderly neighbor whose house is between ours. It makes me feel a sense of joy and cheer, and leaves me thinking for the first time in my life that perhaps I should string Christmas lights for the neighbors to enjoy, just as we enjoy theirs, and I’m not even Christian. And just as I was feeling all cozy and warm, I read this article by the New York Times’ Michelle Slatalla about a neighborly dinner party/competition over stuffed cabbage. It made me feel a little Norman Rockwell and a lot like the holiday spirit has seeped into my normally ambivalent veins.

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