We live in a neighborhood with three streets. The families are made up of thirty something parents with children and older retired folks for the most part. It is a tight knit group of people who have known each other for years and everyone watches out for each other. In July we found a note on our door inviting us to a neighborhood block party. We thought it would be a good way to meet everyone and for Addie to have fun with her new friends.
There would be, according to the note, a bicycle parade for the kids, hot dogs with all the trimmings for everyone, swimming for the kids in one of the pools, and when it got dark, popcorn and a movie on the lawn for one and all to enjoy. Sounded like something out of the 1960’s when I was growing up.
You see, in our little neighborhood, it is very much like it was when I was growing up. All the kids run free from house to house riding bikes and playing games. Everyone keeps an eye on the kids, and the idea of something as artificial as a set play date is laughable. Kids just gather and play, swim, and have fun. The girls who took Addie into their group are great kids. Friendly, kind, and downright loving, Addie was welcomed and treated like she had lived here all her life. One particular girl, A.J., was Addie’s age, blond, wore glasses, and loved the same things Addie does. They were immediate best friends. It was everything a child could want out of summer break. And we were thrilled to see her so happy.
We all gathered, met and chatted with almost everyone, enjoyed the hot dogs and drinks, and had fun watching the kids ride their bikes. I counted 25 children between 18 months and young teens at the event. That is a lot of kids for three blocks, but a few of them came from areas around us who had either friends or family in our neighborhood. Addie had a great time, and the Mr. wore his outgoing personality hat. It was good to see him talking to everyone from young to old. I was exhausted from dialysis so I only stayed for a bit, but it was nice to see what child belonged to which family and to get to know folks who have lived here for ages. I went home early, but the Mr. and Addie stayed until the end of the movie.
They came wandering home well after her bedtime, and it took an hour for her wind down enough to get ready for bed. As I kissed her goodnight, she looked at me with a happy smile and said, “Nana, this was the BEST day EVER. I had so much fun I didn’t want it to end. I love this place!” That made the whole summer the best for me too. We moved here because we fell in love with our new home, we were simply blessed to move into a neighborhood filled with loving families who extend that love to strangers, welcoming us with kindness and acceptance. I guess that is part of living in a small town in the middle of the country in Oklahoma. Another welcome home that blesses us for moving here and gives us a feeling of peace.