… reaching out to your neighbor

Sonya Francis

Don’t go another day without reaching out to your neighbor.
During the much needed snow day on Monday, Feb. 13, I did absolutely nothing. I was lazy. I watched two different Johnny Depp movies – “Edward Scissorhands” and “Benny and Joon.” As always, both were spectacular stories, and Depp’s acting was nothing short of impressive. I was happy to spend a little over three hours in his company.
I then spent my fantastically uneventful day doodling and reading a few chapters of the new book “Quiet” by Susan Cain, another person I don’t mind spending time with. Cain’s book on introverts vs. extroverts shed new light for me on how the ‘other’ kind of mind works.
I even spent a good amount of time gazing out the window to watch the snow accumulate. It was supposed to be beautiful and calming. But I didn’t see that. I saw each little flake as another one my little behind would soon have to shovel off the driveway. Each white-angel beauty kept taunting me with each flutter of the wind.
By early evening, still ignoring the snow, I started to get hungry. I rolled off the bed and left my cave to make my way to the kitchen, where tacos were on the menu that night for dinner. During the song and dance that I generally put on while cooking, I heard a small scratching sound outside the front door.
I peeked out and, sure enough, my wonderful next door neighbor and his son were shoveling my drive. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked that they would do this for me and my mom.
My neighborhood doesn’t have block parties, and the housewives don’t run across the street every time the latest drama occurs. It’s quiet around here. The only time I had ever met any of them was moving day over a year and a half ago when my mom and I made our entrance into Columbia, Mo. And of course the neighbors had slowly trekked across the streets to welcome us, trying to figure out if any of our nonsense was going to disturb their peace. They all seemed like lovely people – normal, with their own lives to lead.
Now, staring at the people I hadn’t paid much attention to in the past 18 months, I hurried to my room to throw on a hoodie, a beanie and my favorite no fingered gloves with one realization: I couldn’t continue being the lazy bum I had been all day.
So I stepped out, exclaiming my great appreciation to my neighbors for their generous act of kindness. The three of us finished up the drive; when we finished shoveling I was still dumbfounded that someone would extend such big-heartedness in complete silence. Just how impressed I was that there are still people out there with a good heart was sad, but either way I was feeling the love, a day before Valentine’s day.
My overeager and somewhat awkward thanks just was simply not enough. Next on the lazy day to-do list was to make cookies, and by golly they would be cut into hearts, and they would most certainly have sprinkles on them.
Let it be known I am no baker. All things turn out crunchy or missing a vital ingredient. However, with karma on my side, my pink decorated, heart-shaped sugar cookies turned out fantastic. I don’t mean to brag or anything, but it was a big mountain to climb for such an inexperienced pastry chef as myself. Who would have thought that actually using the timer was such a big help? I Saran-wrapped the cookies and ran them over to the neighbors’.
Surprised to find me on their stoop bearing gifts, they opened the door and welcomed me into the warmth of their home with great smiles upon their beautiful faces.
I’ve always been told to give a helping hand, to volunteer and to share an even bigger smile with someone when they needed it. But never before have I quite appreciated those lessons quite as much as I do now. Their small act completely warmed my heart and honestly made my day. But most of all, it opened my eyes to how much more I could do for others if I tried.
Next time, I want to be the person that is warming someone else’s heart and making their day and so should you. Don’t go another day without helping out your neighbor.
By Sonya Francis