Our lives are getting increasingly busier and cluttered with to-do lists and appointments. Not to mention, our main connection with others can sometimes be through a “like” or an online comment. Sometimes the only thing we know about our neighbor is that their son started kindergarten this year because we saw that he held up a small chalkboard sign announcing it on Facebook.
To counteract this lack of involvement, National Good Neighbor Day was created long before smartphones and Facebook timelines. Becky Mattson of Lakeside, Montana started the holiday in the early 1970s, intending to inspire others to connect with and recognize the importance of good neighbors.
Several years later, President Jimmy Carter signed a proclamation establishing September 24 as National Good Neighbor Day, and in 2003 the date was changed to September 28. In President Carter’s proclamation, he mentioned that the nation should “observe such day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.” And what should those ceremonies and activities entail, you ask? We have some ideas!
Nothing says “I care for you” quite like watching someone’s offspring — or pets who think they are offspring. If you’re close with your neighbors, offer to help watch their children for a few hours or their pets when they go on a trip! Whether it’s for a quick trip to the grocery store or a date night, offering to babysit or pet sit will provide your neighbor a break from reality (and peanut butter and jelly stains).
Whether you model your cooking style after Martha Stewart or Betty Crocker, making a meal for your neighbor will be meaningful and hospitable. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant feast; the simple act of inviting someone into your home is what matters most. Plus, some of the best conversations occur at the dining table, so it will be a good opportunity to get to know your neighbor on a deeper level.
Offer to swing by the grocery store to pick up groceries or a few essentials your elderly neighbor might need. During a global pandemic or not, this is an extremely helpful gesture for those who cannot access the grocery store as easily.
We’ve all seen the cheesy “welcome to the neighborhood” scene in movies that typically involves doorsteps, chocolate chip cookies and Saran wrap. But we think Hollywood is doing something right! You don’t have to follow their model solely for new residents; neighborhood veterans appreciate spontaneous cookie deliveries just as much as newcomers. Baked goods truly are the way to the heart! Need some ideas? Here are some pumpkin recipes and cozy recipes, both from Colorado bloggers.
We love seeing encouraging quotes and beautiful drawings etched out in chalk all throughout our neighborhoods. Add some cheer to the sidewalk or cul-de-sac by creating your own mural for passersby to admire!
Leave a handwritten note on their door with your contact information (if they don’t already have it) and let them know they can reach out if they ever need anything, like taking in mail while they’re out of town or needing an essential ingredient for a recipe.
If you see your neighbor toiling away in the sun (or rain!), step alongside them, grab a shovel, and assist them in their mission. Fostering a service-minded community is important and you can do your part without stepping far from home. Even if your neighbor isn’t present, you can still rake leaves in their yard or help clear a pathway covered in snow or ice.
It’s simple. It will take a maximum of 30 seconds, but will most likely be a meaningful gesture to your neighbor. Who knows? It may even become part of your routine!
Got more produce than you can handle? As harvest season comes to a close, distribute your extra fruits and vegetables to neighbors to share the bounty!
If time and money prevent you from executing any of the above ideas, a friendly greeting will go a long way in establishing relationships within your community. It’s tempting to make the daily sprint from your car to your house (or vice versa), but instead, take a moment to greet your neighbor! And if time allows, engage in a conversation and get to know them further.
What good neighbor practices do you extend to your neighbors? Let us know in the comments below!