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Neighborhood Rituals

Posted Feb 02 2009 12:00am
Well, I just had a visit from a couple ladies in the neighborhood. I was a bit taken aback as I was in the middle of cooking dinner and wasn't expecting anyone. When they came in, they reminded me about a card I had gotten in the mailbox a few weeks back. I thought it very strange at that time, as it was for a party for one of our neighbors whom we have never met. And, it was for his retirement party. On the envelope our names were all misspelled and I didn't even give it another thought after that day. I didn't even mention it to Erwin, as I just assumed it was a bit strange that we go to a party of a person we've never even met.

Well, today here come the neighbor ladies. You were invited to a party this Saturday, they said. We're all going to be meeting up outside the party hall at 8pm. We'll all go in together and present him his gift as a group, all the neighbors that have been invited. We're asking each family to contribute 10 euro and we'll buy something nice rather than all coem with who knows what.

So, I pulled out the 10 euro I had in my pocket left from grocery shopping today and handed it over, thinking about precious money for a good cause for a man I have never met. Hmmm...and yet, it seems such a nice tradition. It's that small-town community atmosphere that gives me a sense of security living here. It's families coming together, looking out for one another. It's all these neighbors with whom I have never even laid eyes on!!!!!

Erwin and I are pretty private people. We don't get involved in all the local activities, but still try to partake in a few. But we're not yet quite a part of this tiny Belgian community in which we've made our home. Maybe it's time to learn these traditions, partake in them, and become part of the community spirit that lives all around us. I'd like to know my neighbors better, to be able to say hello and ask the newly retired how he's enjoying his new hobby. To know that when I get that card in the mail from someone we don't know, it's not strange, but that sense of community, and a chance for us to be involved, to come to know the people with whom we share a postcode as more than just the guy that lives a few houses down.


So, with my 10 euro contribution I was able to sign the card and become a part of that community spirit. Maybe signing that card was the opportunity for us to really call our home, home. Maybe we'll go to the party and meet these neighbors, see them on the street, invite them to a BBQ. I sent our babysitter an email to see if she can come...if she can, it's time to make that step.
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