30 Friends at Our Doorstep

 

Our cul-de-sac is different from any other in the development: all our homes were built at the same time. So, there was no suffering through construction noise and dust, because we all moved in about the same time in 2006. From the time I invited everyone for a coffee and dessert gathering shortly thereafter, we were sure to be friends. And out of that friendship, an annual event is a highlight of the year for many of us.

A year or two after we all had moved in, our next-door neighbor (whom we call Mr. Mayor, since he often spearheads activities), suggested at one of our periodic neighborhood gatherings that the neighborhood do some subtle decorating for Christmas. His idea was to wrap a cord of white lights around the trunks and in the branches of the oak trees which were planted in front of every house. Most people loved the idea; I was uncomfortable at the thought, since I had never “decorated for Christmas.” No one made a fuss about my decision, but the first night the trees were lit off, ours was the only home, sitting sad and lonely in the dark. It was like a statement that white lights don’t really signify anything. The next day I went tearfully to our neighbor across the street and asked if her husband could help me string a set of lights on the oak tree. They were delighted to help, of course, although my husband grudgingly stepped in, too.

Since then, the number of decorations has grown exponentially. Mr. Mayor has bought and painted several wood lawn decorations over the years; most of them are placed on other front lawns along the street. Many people put up their own outside house lights and decorations. Santa Claus, moose, elves, reindeer, and sleighs line the street. Jerry helped me build a Chanukiah, and the other Jewish neighbors did their part, a giant Jewish star at one house and blue lights in the windows at the other.

Our street became famous! Whenever someone would ask where we lived, “Lemon Grove Drive” would elicit oohs and aahs. If they didn’t know the street, we only had to say we decorate the street for the holidays and we would see smiles and hear words of admiration.

A couple of activities especially make our holiday time special. One is that we have a gathering with yummy food and drink on the night of the “light off,” December 1. We also have a white elephant giveaway. Those who get creative get lots of laughs. We love that time together because it’s unlike any other gathering during the year: we gather to celebrate our friendship, our commitment, our joy for being alive. We know that we can go to each other for help when the unexpected strikes.

The second-best part is the effort to decorate the neighborhood. Originally Mr. Mayor insisted he could do it himself. I would see him from my office window, sneaking down the street with strings of lights in hand, and would immediately run to my husband to tattle on him: “Gary’s at it again!” Jerry would go out and help, and eventually rounded up many of the other men to help out, too. Now we have a voluntary crew that pitches in over several days to decorate. It is not only a work group; it is clearly a bonding event. Jerry was delighted when Gary/Mr. Mayor called him his “right-hand man.”

So on December 1, our annual light-off evening, we will gather together for food and drink, and to celebrate that for one more year, although a couple of spouses who’ve passed away won’t be with us, we can express our gratitude, camaraderie, and love for each other.

*    *     *     *

It’s now December 2, and our celebration is over. We had delicious food, great stories, and lots of hugs. The warmth and connections to each other were deeper than ever. And I’m ever so grateful to be part of this community.

[I wrote about our neighborhood a couple of years ago, and this is an update.]

Published in Group Writing
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 44 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. EB Thatcher
    EB
    @EB

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    This was our first gathering where no one wore a mask! (The photo, BTW, was only part of our group from a few years ago.) The hold-out on masks was a fellow who was still undergoing chemotherapy and was waiting for his booster shot. Last night we saw his smiling face.

    • #2
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I just have a couple of thoughts to add. First, I must say how grateful I am to all the women who raved about my hair! It was sincere and kind of funny, since I can’t take any credit for it. Another one of the women brought earrings and bracelets that she makes for all the women, and they’re so pretty! This year she wanted all of us to take two items, because we couldn’t meet last year. She’s been through a lot the last couple of years, losing her husband for one thing, so it was so sweet of her. I’ll try to add photos here.

    • #3
  4. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    You live in a wonderful community, @susanquinn, as I can testify, since I’ve visited.  (I exempt the horrible gator who’d been lurking, and who surprised us both by sliding into the water unexpectedly and only a few feet from where we were both standing.)

    Enjoy the meteorological warmth you’re undoubtedly feeling (yes, if you’re in the 60s and 70s at this time of year, that’s WARM, lol), and perhaps we’ll get together again soon.  I hope so.

    • #4
  5. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    She (View Comment):
    Enjoy the meteorological warmth you’re undoubtedly feeling (yes, if you’re in the 60s and 70s at this time of year, that’s WARM, lol), and perhaps we’ll get together again soon.  I hope so.

    It’s getting down to the 50’s in the early morning! I should take a photo of myself bundled up. But it reaches the 60’s and low 70’s during the day. I would love to see you.

    • #5
  6. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    Enjoy the meteorological warmth you’re undoubtedly feeling (yes, if you’re in the 60s and 70s at this time of year, that’s WARM, lol), and perhaps we’ll get together again soon. I hope so.

    It’s getting down to the 50’s in the early morning! I should take a photo of myself bundled up. But it reaches the 60’s and low 70’s during the day. I would love to see you.

    And I you.  I fondly remember our walks in February of 2020 (mere days before the Covid lockdown horror enveloped us all).  I was wearing shorts and T-shirts and soaking up the sun.  You were bundled up as if it were the middle of winter.  LOL. 

    • #6
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Aren’t these just beautiful?!

    • #7
  8. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    I don’t understand. There’s a big yellow sign in the picture that says “NO OUTLET,” so where do you plug in all the lights?

    • #8
  9. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Susan Quinn:

    The second-best part is the effort to decorate the neighborhood. Originally Mr. Mayor insisted he could do it himself. I would see him from my office window, sneaking down the street with strings of lights in hand, and would immediately run to my husband to tattle on him: “Gary’s at it again!” Jerry would go out and help, and eventually rounded up many of the other men to help out, too. Now we have a voluntary crew that pitches in over several days to decorate. It is not only a work group; it is clearly a bonding event. Jerry was delighted when Gary/Mr. Mayor called him his “right-hand man.”

    As you no doubt know, if you want guys to “bond” you don’t invite them to a discussion group with tea and cookies, you give them a project to work on together.

    • #9
  10. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    EJHill (View Comment):

    I don’t understand. There’s a big yellow sign in the picture that says “NO OUTLET,” so where do you plug in all the lights?

    Good one, EJ!!! We just plug into the houses the next street over and offer to pay half their electric bill!

    • #10
  11. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn:

    The second-best part is the effort to decorate the neighborhood. Originally Mr. Mayor insisted he could do it himself. I would see him from my office window, sneaking down the street with strings of lights in hand, and would immediately run to my husband to tattle on him: “Gary’s at it again!” Jerry would go out and help, and eventually rounded up many of the other men to help out, too. Now we have a voluntary crew that pitches in over several days to decorate. It is not only a work group; it is clearly a bonding event. Jerry was delighted when Gary/Mr. Mayor called him his “right-hand man.”

     

    As you no doubt know, if you want guys to “bond” you don’t invite them to tea and cookies, you give them a project to work on together.

    Absolutely, FST! What’s funny is that the tea and cookies event was planned. We had to grab the guys by their ears at first regarding the work, and when they realized how much enjoyment they’d have and how much Mr. Mayor appreciated their help, it was a slam dunk! But the ears came first.

    • #11
  12. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    simply wonderful

    • #12
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Unsk (View Comment):

    simply wonderful

    Thanks, @unsk. I feel so blessed.

    • #13
  14. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I love your community. They respected your decision to not participate, and welcomed you without reproach when you did. 

    That is America at her best. 

     

    • #14
  15. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Beautiful!

    (I just hope there are no blow-ups).

    • #15
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Bryan G. Stephens (View Comment):

    I love your community. They respected your decision to not participate, and welcomed you without reproach when you did.

    That is America at her best.

     

    Indeed. Thanks, Bryan.

    • #16
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    Beautiful!

    (I just hope there are no blow-ups).

    Don’t you like blow-ups? I think there’s only one this year. Although they are ugly when they are deflated during the day. 

    • #17
  18. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    By they way, not a woman, so as I guy I miss hair. However, Susan, it is always your wonderful smile that I notice. 

    • #18
  19. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Great neighborhood!

    Yet somehow I find palm trees and Christmas incongruous. I’m sure I could get used to it if I actually lived there. But it would take time. 

    • #19
  20. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    You’re fortunate to live in a neighborhood such as this.  

    However, I suspect that you’re a big part in making this neighborhood what it is.

    • #20
  21. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Great neighborhood!

    Yet somehow I find palm trees and Christmas incongruous. I’m sure I could get used to it if I actually lived there. But it would take time.

    I can understand that! But I grew up in CA, so it’s not such a tough transition. ;-)

    • #21
  22. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    CACrabtree (View Comment):
    However, I suspect that you’re a big part in making this neighborhood what it is.

    I don’t think so. I used to spearhead things, but have backed away from doing it. Although I did love initiating Progressive Dinners. We’ll see.

    • #22
  23. DonG (CAGW is a hoax) Coolidge
    DonG (CAGW is a hoax)
    @DonG

    I am wondering if the next street over competes with y’all.   Another good way to motivate guys is to make something a competition.

    • #23
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    DonG (CAGW is a hoax) (View Comment):

    I am wondering if the next street over competes with y’all. Another good way to motivate guys is to make something a competition.

    No one else decorates the way we do!! Plus, our guys are happy to participate now. Thanks for the suggestion, though, DonG

    • #24
  25. Marjorie Reynolds Coolidge
    Marjorie Reynolds
    @MarjorieReynolds

    It sounds magical. 

    • #25
  26. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    EJHill (View Comment):

    I don’t understand. There’s a big yellow sign in the picture that says “NO OUTLET,” so where do you plug in all the lights?

    And let’s not forget near the end of “How To Frame A Figg.”

    • #26
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    kedavis (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    I don’t understand. There’s a big yellow sign in the picture that says “NO OUTLET,” so where do you plug in all the lights?

    And let’s not forget near the end of “How To Frame A Figg.”

    ? Sorry–don’t know that one. . .

    • #27
  28. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    EJHill (View Comment):

    I don’t understand. There’s a big yellow sign in the picture that says “NO OUTLET,” so where do you plug in all the lights?

    And let’s not forget near the end of “How To Frame A Figg.”

    ? Sorry–don’t know that one. . .

    I was hoping to find just a clip, but no luck.

    It’s fully watchable here:

    https://archive.org/details/how-to-frame-a-figg-1080p

     

    Near the end they go around town stealing extension cords and then… well, you should see it yourself.

    • #28
  29. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    JustmeinAZ (View Comment):

    Beautiful!

    (I just hope there are no blow-ups).

    Don’t you like blow-ups? I think there’s only one this year. Although they are ugly when they are deflated during the day.

    Blow-ups are classless! Maybe that’s just me trying to suppress my yahoo background.😊

    • #29
  30. JustmeinAZ Member
    JustmeinAZ
    @JustmeinAZ

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Hang On (View Comment):

    Great neighborhood!

    Yet somehow I find palm trees and Christmas incongruous. I’m sure I could get used to it if I actually lived there. But it would take time.

    I can understand that! But I grew up in CA, so it’s not such a tough transition. ;-)

    Yeah, we could never get our Christmas tree earlier than 10 days before Christmas because there were almost always Santa Ana winds to turn them into kindling.

    • #30