To observe, enjoy and create in everyday life

Neighborhood Hospitality

We have lived in our current neighborhood for almost 12 years. I can always remember this because our youngest son Alexander celebrated his third birthday in this home. That was the Sunday in December when we came home from church and found the furnace had quit working, and we were expecting a house full of people in just a few short hours. But, I suppose that is a story for another time. 

Over the years we have come to know most of the neighbors surrounding our home. Some we know quite well, such as our next door neighbor who was also Alexander's preschool teacher. And other neighbors we know only as the-owner-of-the-fluffy-dog, or some other such description. Some of neighbors we have known over the years have moved to new homes, and sadly others have passed away. At Christmas time some of us neighbors exchange plates of goodies, and there's always simple "Hellos" when we see each other outside. In the nearly twelve years we have lived here, we have not seemed to dive any deeper with most neighbors than knowing their first name, or in some cases only their dog's name.

And so, we are trying to change that. We want to really know the people who live on our block and surrounding blocks. We want to be better about building relationships with those we live in such close proximity to. But how do you do that when you've been here a decade? It seems so easy when you are new to the neighborhood. That's the time when folks come over to introduce themselves...welcome you to the neighborhood. So how do you take that simple "Hello" only knowing someone by their first name to the next level? Knowing people, truly getting to know them, takes intentionality and time. My husband and I have some ideas of how we can create more of a community among our neighbors over the months and years, and I will be sharing them here as we practice more neighborhood hospitality. One idea to get to know my neighbors better starts with a plate of Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I have begun baking small batches of our family's favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (see below for recipe) and delivering them to our neighbors. It seems so simple, and yet it isn't. People expect cookies at Christmas. People do not expect them on a Friday afternoon in April. Some neighbors will stand at the door and chat with me for a few minutes, but others will invite me in for a visit. 

Last week, when out delivering cookies, our neighbor a few houses down invited me in to sit for a bit. This gentleman and his family have lived in our neighborhood longer than our family has. But we don't know them all that well. I knew his wife had been very ill for the last few years, and on this afternoon visit I learned that she had just passed away a few weeks ago. I was surprised that a neighbor could pass away, and that it wouldn't have been noticed by many in our neighborhood. I want more for our little community than that. I enjoyed hearing about their last few weeks together, and about his intention to volunteer with Hospice because of how significant of an impact they had on his family. I hope to continue learning more about his work with Hospice and other things happening in his life. I hope to be a better neighbor. 

Maybe you want to reach out to a neighbor as well? How about starting with a plate of cookies? I promise that both your family and your neighbors will love these cookies. This recipe was given to me about the same time we moved into this house. It came out of a little church cookbook that my friend's husband had from his childhood church. How's that for a recipe? At any rate, I have tried numerous chocolate chip cookie recipes, and this one is it! Bake up a batch this afternoon, and deliver some to your neighbors (and save some for yourself of course!)

Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 4 dozen

1 1/2 cups Butter at room temperature
2 cups Brown sugar
1/2 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
3 tablespoons Vanilla
4 1/4 cups All Purpose Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 package of Chocolate Chips (12 oz.)

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • Cream butter, sugars, egg and vanilla together
  • In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients
  • Slowly add dry ingredients to mixing bowl and mix until incorporated
  • Drop by Tablespoon-full onto greased baking sheet, two inches apart (you can also line a baking sheet with parchment paper or use a silpat sheet on your baking sheet instead of greasing the pan)
  • Bake at 375 for 10 minutes

** This recipe can easily be cut in half. Or, make a whole batch and freeze some of the cookies. **

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