So before we had even actually moved into the house, there was a note in my mailbox inviting me to the 7th annual neighborhood Christmas tea (!). I have to tell you – I grew up on a really busy street with no other kids on the block and no HOAs. My parents have owned (still do) that house for more than 40 years and when I was little, many of the neighbors were original owners. So we knew them all – I think we were a novelty – like standby / practice grandkids in the neighborhood (though I think most of their grandkids were actually older than us). But still, as it was a busy street and most of the families were older, there was never once a block party or anything like that. To be honest, I thought block parties were a made up thing on TV. You know, like how everyone sits on ones side of the dinner table in TV shows or the living room is set up so everyone faces one way? Block parties were a TV thing like that. (A side note – my parents also never complained about their in-laws. Both sides of my family are pretty nice generous people, so I think that made it easier, but I also remember my Mom saying, how could you ever have a real animosity for the person who gave birth to / raised the person you love most in the world? OK, so I’ve seen some of my friend’s mothers in law who perfectly answer that question, but still, I get her point. Anyway, as a kid I also thought that in-law jokes were just something for TV. Not something real or based on any actual animosity. So I was overall sheltered.)
Anyway, my in-laws neighborhood had a block party a couple of years ago – my first. Apparently, according to my husband, a block party veteran, it was a truly lame block party. No grill, no keg, etc. And here I was thinking I hadn’t missed out on anything as a kid. But, according to him, a “real” block party was much better and something worth going to. OK, I’ll take your word for it.
My only experiences with these types of neighborhood community events are the parties run by prior condo associations. While they are trying, the reality is that they often are pretty lame and lack real mingling too. I’ve usually brought friends and encouraged them to do their best to drink back my condo fees.
So a neighborhood tea – one held the week I moved in – seemed such a novelty! Where have I moved? Is this a good thing – a real community? Neighbors who understand that the word means more than a shared property line? Or a bad thing – have I moved to Stepford?
It turns out it’s the first – wow! I brought the munchkin with me as the hubby had worked the night before and gotten no sleep. She was the only baby, but they’d said it was OK to bring her along – and boy was she the hit of the party! Most of the people there seemed at least a little (to a lot) older than me. I’m not sure all their ages, but have to guess from the ages of their children (and grandchildren and great grandchildren). There were actually a good number with teenage kids (and at least one with a 6 and 9 year old. My Mom pointed out that I could have a 9 year old if I’d started really young. OK, maybe… But could we stop aging me?). They had tea and snacks and everyone was very anxious to help me get some as I was holding the baby – it was really very nice (as I’d been wondering how on earth I’d manage). As I was sitting, someone next to me said – I’m just dying for my turn to hold your baby. Well, how could I resist (I could finally eat the chocolate mousse cake then!) – and she went no fuss! She actually was OK being held by a few people – as long as she could pull off / attempt to eat their name tags.
They actually had a short program – first an icebreaker to introduce everyone and then someone gave a short presentation on the meaning of Christmas and bringing the light of it into our lives (getting beyond all our busy-ness to remember what it was about. This was definitely the neighborhood CHRISTMAS tea, not the holiday tea.). It was actually pretty nice – not overly preachy and pretty open. And, through the intros, you could see that everyone was pretty friendly and laid back.
I have to admit that it all seemed a little surreal – so much unlike what I’m used to. But all in a really good way. And not once did anyone bring up our leaves or our trees or whatever other mess we need to sort with this house!