I love living on post. I know that some people feel differently; that they want to be able to leave work and the Army behind at the end of the day, and that they don’t feel they can do that if their home is on post.
But I don’t feel that way. I feel like I am truly home when I live in a neighborhood full of Army families. I feel a sense of community that I have never really felt when I have lived in a civilian neighborhood. It just seems “right” to have people in the homes on either side of me who share similar experiences, and who are going through the same things.
This summer my on-post neighborhood will be going through a big turnover. Lots of folks leaving, and lots of new folks moving in. I will be sad to see my friends go, but I can’t help but feel excited about the new friends that I am going to make.
My next door neighbor feels the same way. One night, not long ago, we were discussing how we, as some of the few people on the street who are staying, are going to make the new people feel welcome. I have to admit, in all of my years as an Army Wife, I have never really had a “game plan” for greeting the newbies. I will usually introduce myself, offer the use of my phone or computer, and maybe drop off a gift, but there is no real consistency in my approach. So my neighbor’s ideas were intriguing to me.
Let me digress a moment to let you know that the two most traditional offerings for the new neighbor–homemade baked goods or a plant–have never really been my gifts of choice to give. Sadly, I am not much of a baker, and I am even worse at gardening. I love to receive baked goods, that is for sure. But I am not wild about getting plants. A few years ago as I was moving in to a new set of quarters, a neighbor brought by a lovely fern for me. We became close friends, so I had to keep replacing the fern every time I killed it, just in case she came by. I think I bought three of them over the course of a year.
So I try to go the more helpful route–I drop off a card with my phone number (and I always give permission to use it for emergency contact status on school registration forms), I offer up the use of my stuff (dishes, pillows, blankets, air mattresses…whatever), I might throw in a neighborhood roster or something. I know, it sounds lame. I have always felt that I was slightly lacking in the “new person hospitality” department, but I keep trying.
Here is the good news. My awesome neighbor just happens to be a fantastic baker. And she thinks we should go in together–she will bake something, and I am in charge of the presentation. She has given me free-reign over the creative piece of the project. Yes! We will trot over to a new neighbor’s house together, and I will get partial credit for her yummy cookies without having to get flour all over my kitchen. And without having the smoke alarm go off. Clearly, I have been dealt the better hand in this game of cards!
The question is, though, what am I going to do?
Well, I have decided to share a part of my plan with you. Part of it is a secret–I guess you will have to move in to my neighborhood if you want to know the whole plan.
The truth is, I haven’t really come up with the entire plan yet. But this is the part that I have figured out.
I am going to print out a “Quarters Blessing.” Maybe it’s been done before, but, if it has, I have never seen it. As far as I am concerned, this is the only one of its kind, and I think it’s about time.
A Quarters Blessing
If your quarters be historical, may they have new plumbing
May your garden be filled with perennials left by the previous tenant
May you move in after someone with similar interests; so that your junk mail be relevant
May your walls be nailable
May the children in your neighborhood be the same age as your own
May the traffic on your street always go the speed limit
May your circuit breaker be able to handle simultaneous vacuuming and microwaving
May your housing office be quickly responsive to broken toilets
May your appliances be top of the line
May your fixtures be less than 20 years old
May your lifetime lightbulbs last more than a few weeks
May your tile look like it belongs in a home, not an institution
May your Queen Sized box springs make it up the stairs
May your floors be hardwood and not carpeted
May your neighbors welcome you with open arms
May you make beautiful memories in your less-than-perfect quarters…
And, in 20 or 30 years time, may your children drive by with children of their own,
and fondly say “That’s where I used to live!”
I will probably print it on a little card, and write some contact numbers in there. Old habits die hard!
Do you have any ideas for welcoming new neighbors? Ever had anybody do something unique to welcome you into a new neighborhood? Please share!!
And if you want to print out my Quarters Blessing, I have a cuter version of it right here.