Would We Have Done This?

Down the big hill and towards the school, some new neighbors moved in last Spring.  I met them once, and since then, our paths have not crossed.  Nobody on my street really knows them. 

Our community holds Trick-or-Treating on Thursday night, and as we approach this new family’s house last night, we are already freezing in the darkness as wind whips underneath our costumes.  Then, I see a sign in the yard.  It says: “Wecome!  Come in for Hot Chocolate, Cider, Coffee, Tea, and Donuts.”  Like a beacon of warmth and cheer, that house glows from the sidewalk.

We can’t resist.  We swarm the place.  We stay awhile.   

The family nobody knows cleaned out their garage and turned it into a little barn with tables and chairs for neighbors to rest during Trick-or Treating.  The couple dressed up as farmers, and as they pour cider and pass out donuts to us–strangers–they laugh and smile and introduce themselves.

The family none of us knows is now the family that everybody knows.

This family models how to enter a community with flair.   The next time I feel lonely, left out, or unknown because I’m the new kid on the block, I’m not going to wait around for the Welcome Wagon.  I’m going to make a sign, clear a space, and offer the kind of hospitality that folks can’t resist.  The kind of hospitality that makes people stay awhile. 

I love my neighborhood.

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One Way to Say “I Love You”

A few days ago, my husband and I seriously start brainstorming ideas for our Halloween costumes. There’s a lot at stake:  we have a party to attend and neighborhood children to impress.  

I have this genius idea–one I actually stole from a student– that my husband could dress as Colonel Mustard and I’d go as Mrs. Peacock from the board game, “Clue.”  We decide that, although a brilliant idea, it is too complicated (and nobody would remember that game). 

My husband begins implementing his plan;  he starts searching the Internet for “bear suits.”

I repeat:  bear suits.  

He actually wants us to go to this party as bears.  I smile politely and then leave for the costume store.  

I find the most glorious red cape for a Little Red Riding Hood outfit.  I picture my little basket and my adorable dress.  Then I consider my husband.  

Lederhosen / Wikipedia Commons / Public Domain

The store features another fairy tale costume that’s equally adorable.

It’s Hansel.

Think lederhosen.

Think actual leather breeches and embroidered suspenders.  And a little hat. 


I rush home and tell him about this costume.  I have it being held for 24 hours with his name on it.  

“You could be Hansel!  From Hansel and Gretel?  You know, Hansel?”  I’m nodding my head and shaking his arm back and forth. 

“I’m not going to be Hansel,” he says firmly.

“But it’s so adorable!  Honey, please be Hansel.”

“I can’t be Hansel,” he says again. 

I’m crushed.  I’m devastated.  He’d be the most wonderful Hansel.

A day goes by.  I’m still crushed.  And just about the time I’m going to search for more impressive costumes (Gandalf, Dumbledore, Batman) or else begin an ebay search for bear suits, I get a text message from him.

3 words.  

“I’ll be Hansel.” 

I call him back, and say, “Really?  Will you really be Hansel?”

He says, “Yes, I’ll be Hansel.  I know how much this means to you.”

It turns out that other husbands (the ones who we arrange playdates for), perhaps in an act of solidarity, are encouraging his decision.  At least one is seriously considering going as Hansel–standing side-by-side with my husband.  Maybe they’ll be a whole neighborhood throng of German men in lederhosen. 

But I would have been a bear for him. 

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