We’ve moved, a lot.
Sometimes it’s been by choice, and sometimes it’s been by calling. Sometimes it’s been purely for survival reasons, and sometimes it’s been because the grass seemed greener on the suburban side of the road (which, for us, never ended up actually being the greener pasture).
I yearn to plant myself in a place for more than a year or two, to dig deep roots into a community and a people, but that hasn’t been the case for the past nineteen years.
But a silver lining still exists, of course: because I’ve moved (a lot), I’ve learned to notice and reach out and be a good neighbor to those who are new in town, too.
So, let’s practice kindness. Let’s be a good neighbor to the new kid in town. Let’s be the noticing humans we were created to be, and let’s reach out to those who are in the midst of transition and love them well.
Here’s a list of 50 ways you can be a good neighbor to the new kid in town:
- Say hello.
- Introduce yourself.
- Remember (and call this new friend) by name.
- Smile. Make eye contact. Be the human that you are.
- Ask them how they’re doing. And really, actually, mean it.
- Ask them about the place they just moved from – you better believe it’s constantly on their minds.
- Ask them for their digits.
- Invite them out to coffee.
- Invite them to your favorite pub.
- Invite them to a holiday activity: your family, their family, and all the messiness that comes along with it.
- Introduce them to your favorite park.
- Ask them to go on a walk with you and your dog.
- Shoot them a last-minute text: What are you doing right now? Let’s hang out!
- Drop off burritos from your favorite taqueria their first night in town. (This happened on my first night in San Mateo, California, and I’m telling you, it was the best burrito I ever ate.
- Drop off homemade cookies on your new neighbor’s doorstep.
- If you have children, have them drop off homemade cookies on your new neighbor’s doorstep.
- Drop off a growler of your favorite local beer.
- Drop off a bottle of local wine, along with a “Welcome to the neighborhood!” note.
- Initiate conversation with those same neighbors next time you see them.
- Donate furniture you don’t need anymore.
- Donate a box of toys to a family living in the limbo of corporate housing.
- Put together a gift basket of tea towels, plates, utensils and Trader Joe’s frozen food meals. That’s dinner, yo!
- If the new person is a parent, offer to take them on a tour of local schools in the neighborhood.
- If you go to church or are part of a religious group, make an effort to notice the newcomers. This is not just the job of the paid staff or leadership team.
- Talk to the newcomers.
- Invite the newcomers out to lunch after the service.
- Invite them to community groups and bible studies and other places they can get connected …then, connect with them if they show up!
- Repeat all of the above. Just be a fleshy version of Light to them.
- Don’t live in the same town as someone who’s just moved? Mail them a care package.
- Send them a letter.
- Have dinner delivered through a meal delivery service.
- Write a note with the three nearest grocery stores, fun restaurants and other pertinent places listed.
- Take your neighbor grocery shopping to one of the aforementioned three nearest grocery stores.
- Be generous with information about town – information only locals might know.
- Invite them out to lunch. (Ahem, pay for lunch!)
- Ask them out to coffee.
- Have them over for dinner or for a playdate. You guys: there is NOTHING better than that first invitation when you’re the new kid in town. Nothing better.
- Buy them a local coupon book, like the Chinook Book. (Thanks, Anna).
- Tell them about local events they can attend. Even better: go with them!
- Is it Christmas time? Adorn their front door with a fresh wreath.
- Is it Valentine’s Day? String a banner of hearts across their front stoop.
- Is it the 4th of July? Drop off a plate of red, white and blue Pinterest goodness.
- Drop off a gift card.
- Ask them what their favorite coffee drink is. Write that drink down in your cell phone. Buy it for them the next time you know you’re going to see them.
- Own a coffee shop or a restaurant? Welcome the newcomer with a free slice of pie or latte.
- Bring a carton of fresh, local eggs over.
- Follow through.
- Show up.
- Dare to ask your new neighbor twenty questions.
- Offer a hug.
In this season that oftentimes feels so hostile and divided, we can still be good neighbors. We can still be intentional, and we still can notice those we’re not necessarily prone to noticing.
If you’ve lived in the same area your entire life (or for a really, really long time), chances are you don’t know what it’s like to be the newcomer – you may not know what it’s like to feel like a leaving, a divorce, a death of what was. You’ll probably have to work pretty hard at letting someone new into your circle and your community, because you don’t necessarily need another friend.
But this new neighbor just might need you. And you, in turn, might come to find out that you need them, too.
In this thing called humanity with you,
Oh, the list goes on – and thanks to everyone who contributed ideas! What would you add? What kindness did someone show you when you were new in town? Also, look for 50 Ways to Dominate as the New Kid in Town on Friday!0