It does seem odd to set aside a special time specifically designed to meet your neighbors like National Night Out.
Don’t get me wrong, I think NNO, as its called, is a great event and I’m glad Enumclaw is joining communities like Black Diamond, Buckley and Bonney Lake that already celebrate, but shouldn’t we have been getting to know our neighbors from the get-go?
I grew up in an Enumclaw neighborhood where we knew everyone in every house, there were about 20, and most of the folks in the half-block around the corner too. There were about six kids in the neighborhood who graduated with me. We grew up together and are still good friends.
In our neighborhood we looked out for the older folks. The teens babysat the younger ones. We carpooled to school and youth group. The neighborhood had an open-door policy to the kids and we came and went, and came and went. There were no latch-key kids. If your mom wasn’t home after school, someone’s mom was home.
We picked up the mail and paper and watched the house for those who were out of town. We pooled all our fireworks on the Fourth of July and celebrated together. We helped each other with home-improvement projects. We joined forces to search for your dog when it ran off and brought it home if we found it.
It was a great place to grow up.
My mom still lives in that neighborhood and they still look out for each other.
I’ve lived in a lot of neighborhoods since then and they’ve all been the same. It’s a lot like the street I remember from my youth.
In Maryland, we shoveled snow for each other and gathered for Vietnamese barbecues. We celebrated the births of our children together and then watched each others as the neighborhood grew. We were a smaller group, about five or six homes, but close. Close enough to pass a cup of sugar from one deck to the other.
We had the same experiences in Indiana and Connecticut.
When we arrived in Enumclaw, we knew we were home again when our neighbors welcomed us with a plate of warm brownies.
Our neighborhood now is by far the biggest, but we still know many of the people who live there.
We share lawn and garden trips. When we get the wrong mail in our mailbox, we return it to its rightful owner. We solve the city’s problems with a simple sidewalk meeting. We lend a hand when we’re asked, and sometimes when we just see a hand is needed. We support youth athletics and school fundraisers by purchasing candles and candy. We call the police when we see strangers or suspicious cars loitering in the nearby park.
We secure empty recycling and garbage containers on rainy, windy days. When our neighbors are sick, we pray for them, bring them meals and look after their yard. We pick up after our dogs when we walk them around the neighborhood.
Our neighborhood is the type that would probably plan an event for NNO just so we could get to know each other better, but I feel good about how well we know each other now.
The neighborhood isn’t perfect and we don’t know everyone, and even the folks we know we don’t know intimately, but it’s a great place to live, raise kids and grow old.