When we lived in a wealthier area, people were polite, civil, but mostly cold. They didn’t go out of their way to say, hello, or even acknowledge my existence. I think they knew instinctively by my dress, my mannerism, or by some other secret code, that I wasn’t one of them.
Tending toward being an introvert, I didn’t much care. However, when we moved out further into an area with a bigger mix of economic strata, I experienced a radical change in the people around me. There were more smiles, hellos, and Good Afternoons. People I didn’t know chatted in the aisles, and helped load large items into my car.
“What kind of weed eater did you buy?”
A little unsure, but not wanting to be rude, my husband showed him the model.
“Ah, okay.” The man said. “I thought it was brand XXX. There’s a trick to starting it and it doesn’t tell you in the instructions. I had to call the manufacturer. Thought I’d save you the same frustration. Have a good day.”
This would not have happened in the other places we lived.
This friendliness went further when we moved into our current subdivision. Our neighbors actually came to the door and welcomed us. They went so far as to apologize for not coming sooner. We don’t socialize, but we greet one another, wave when we drive by, and in general acknowledge the other’s presence. I haven’t experienced this since moving from my home of twenty-six years.
One of my devotions, Living Faith, described a lovely Advent tradition in a poor village in Honduras called Posadas. Villagers visit a different family every night, reenacting Joseph and Mary’s search for shelter (posadas). Carolers enter the home, pray, share scripture, and sing carols.
In Living Faith, author, Miguel Dulick wrote, “Unlike Bethlehem [and in some of our more affluent neighborhoods], the door is always open, especially for folks who are elderly, housebound, who can’t get up to the little church up on the hill.”
This Christmas season, I plan to do a smaller version, returning to the old tradition of taking holiday plates to the neighbors. I won’t be singing carols (they wouldn’t open the door), but offer the plate of goodies and wish them a Merry Christmas.
I also have a dear friend living seven hours away. She is now legally blind and housebound. She listens to audio books, which break up the monotony of long days, but I know she would love someone to read to her as well as chat.
In opening my heart, and my door to my neighbors, both close by and far away, in a small way I can share that lovely tradition of that village in Honduras. I know God can take my little and turn it into so much more.
Have a blessed Advent.