We’ve lived in the same house for almost ten years now. And I don’t mean to sound unfriendly – because I’m generally not – but we haven’t really gotten to know many of our neighbours in that time.
But in the last year or so we’ve developed a lovely relationship with the neighbours right next door. They’re an older retired couple, and we’d never really spoken to them before the day we decided to get rid of the firewood that was stacked on the side of our house (we’d pulled out our old freestanding fireplace because it didn’t work particularly effectively to heat the house).
I went over, offered them the wood for free, and they accepted. They offered us money for the wood, but we were happy just to get rid of it, so didn’t accept. So instead they decided to pay us in homemade pickles, jam and relish, as well as the most delicious homemade bread in the world. (And I don’t feel like I’m exaggerating on that description.)
This might not seem a big deal, but it's actually rather special. I’ll come home from work and on the deck will be a bag of goodies, from the freshest and yummiest bread you’ve ever tasted, to delicious jams or mouth-watering pickles.
It’s unexpected, it’s delightful, and I love it.
In the meantime, our three-year-old daughter has developed a liking for our neighbours, and often demands to be passed over the fence so she can go say hello. Given that both her grandfathers have passed away, our retired neighbour is the only older male in her life, so it’s a nice relationship that I’m glad she gets to experience.
My husband pops over to help on occasion with gardening type activities, and they loan us water blasters and trimmers. When we bake a cake, we take some pieces over for their afternoon tea, and when our daughter turned three they were invited to the party.
I tell you all of this, not to brag about the relationship, or even to thank our neighbours. I tell you to show you that amazing things can grow out of small acts. We lived next to these people for more than eight years, and I don’t even think I’d seen them properly before I went over to offer them the firewood. We live in a thickly forested area, surrounded by trees, so it wasn’t hard to stay out of each other’s way.
But that small act has had some wonderful repercussions that I wouldn’t have expected or even dreamed of. It just reminds me of the goodness that is around us, of how many people are kind and careful and generous with their time if you make connections with them. It reminds me to be a better person in many ways, because building relationships with others comes back to you tenfold, making your life a better place to be.
So go forth and smile. Do a random act of kindness for someone you know. Or maybe even someone you don’t know. You never know where it might lead…