The saying goes, “You can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends.” And wouldn’t it be great if we could hand pick our neighbors too? Well, we did.
We scored a rental agreement for a house in a neighborhood that we thought would be our temporary home for a year. Fortunately for us, there was some bad blood between the developer and the neighbors. Knowing that it would be impossible to sell the house amidst the “Monster Houses Make Bad Neighbors” signs that lined the street, the owner decided to rent the house to us. What nailed the coffin shut was a professionally made banner which hung on the neighbor’s house that said, “Hope you enjoy the million dollar view of my bathroom”. It was the only thing you saw when you looked out our main windows in the family room. It sounds awful but in the end, it was exactly what we needed. Despite the awkwardness of the situation, we became very close friends with the neighbors who hung the banner. We rented the house for 5 years before the opportunity to buy it came up. When we asked our neighbors if we should buy it, we were so relieved that they said yes!
The following is going to sound like I’m bragging but there is no way to describe thoughtfulness other than to just give you a glimpse of what it’s like to live next door to these wonderful people.
It is typical of my thoughtful neighbor to offer us a ride to the airport whenever she gets wind that we are leaving town. Even when she learned that we were heading to the airport during the worst traffic time in MPLS she insisted that her offer was still on the table. I couldn't believe it. Where I come from, transporting is either a family obligation or we pay someone to do “the dirty work.” In addition, my neighbor must have made a mental note of our return date because the day before we were leaving Costa Rica she sent a text offering to pick us up when we landed back home which would be at 1154pm. Is that love or what? Again, I had to refuse the offer because I wouldn’t ask my worst enemy to go thru that punishment. Hours later, she came over with fresh fruit and a homemade lemon poppyseed pound cake. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Even though she makes homemade liquor and baked goods, she’s not the only one in the family that is genuinely thoughtful. For most holidays and birthdays her hub makes things to give to the kids and I receive on Christmases wonderful jewelry and chopping boards that he made himself. He’s the guy who is putting up the piñata for the taco truck parties on the block. He’s the guy who shovels snow even though we have a snow removal service. He’s the guy who drops everything and will move a sofa sleeper from one floor to the next. He’s the guy that my hub teases because he makes all the other guys on the block look bad. Meanwhile, the daughter of this fantastic couple, who I’ve known since she was 5, is now a beautiful teenager. She is a consistently well-behaved, gentle-spirited, sweetest person around. Her thoughtfulness has come to us in forms of homemade beauty products - lotions, sprays, candles, bath salts, soaps and lucky us, she has started to babysit this summer. Am I painting a good picture of how this family rolls?
I should not have been surprised to see that their kitchen was humming with deliciousness when I stopped over to check in on the younger neighbor. They had just found out that her good friend’s mother had passed away, so she was doing what comes naturally for her - she was making dinner for 10+ people. Together with her daughter, they were cooking and baking everything from scratch: smoked ribs (with help from her hub), tomatillo verde sauce, corn muffins, broccoli salad and peach cobbler. There was talk of making a corn and cotija cheese salad too. When I heard that she needed avocados, I jumped to run to the store for her. I knew if I told her I was only going to Trader Joe’s for her avocados she would never let me go so I faked that I was heading that way anyway (white lie). I finally felt like I was able to do some sort of good neighborly deed when in the midst of making food for all these grieving people, she ran over with a hefty portion of the tomatillo sauce and a peach cobbler dish because of course, she made some for us too! As you can see, there is no way to match this perpetual kindness!
My neighbor knows exactly when to bring me a glass of her homemade wine. She knows that I would gladly be the tester of her chili and that I’ll accept her extra mashed potatoes if she doesn’t have room in her fridge. You’d think this woman never sleeps by the way she casually drops off the most scrumptious homemade marshmallows to go in the hot cocoa mix that she’s put together for our cold winter months. Yes, this woman has a full time career!! Yet her thoughtful pinches are abundant.
And as if being extremely generous at home is not enough, every time these thoughtful neighbors travel, they bring us back something. We are talking about smoked cheese sticks from their trip to Wisconsin, wine from a volleyball tournament trip near a local winery in Cannon Falls, pies from some place up north, olive oil from their trip to Northern CA last summer. The list can go on and on! The bottom line is: They are always thinking of us and they are always generous. I bet I’ve written about 10 thank you notes to these neighbors since Spring and I have a sense that there will be many more notes to come.
Now you can see how easy it is for me to follow the commandment, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” With neighbors like mine, how can you not?