So what would you do with a million dollars? Ever sit around and ponder that question? Besides taking a trip to Europe and buying a hobby farm, I think I know my answer: I’d write. And bake. Well, I'd probably write about baking, how's that?
Writing is my favorite part of this blog. Wait, eating is my very favorite part, but creating in this little online journal and hearing from you all is a very close second.
Now I’m certainly not a stellar writer – it’s just something I enjoy. During maternity leave, I still tried to spend some time writing. I don’t know where I found the time to put fingers to the keyboard, but I even wrote an article for a local publication on growing and using herbs – my first paid writing job! I also wrote this essay:
This year was one of the toughest winters on record in North Dakota, with six months of freezing temperatures, mountains of accumulated snow, and a flood at the end to top it all off. However, it's in tough times that the kindness of others really shines through.
In March we had a hopeful glimpse of spring with warming temperatures, but we weren't out of the woods yet. The biggest blizzard of the season hit in late March.
Did I mention that we are foolhardy enough not to own a snow blower?
And did I mention I was nearly nine months pregnant at the time?
With my husband away at work, I was literally stranded in my house as the snow piled up so quickly. Early that morning as I contemplated how I was going to shovel my way out, I heard the distinct hum of a snow blower outside. Without prompting, our neighbor Marv was out in our driveway, despite the wind and frigid temperatures, clearing our long driveway and sidewalks. As it continued snowing through the day, another neighbor Joe cleared out our driveway yet again!
Ten days later, as the warming sun started to melt the snow banks, our son Ben was born and the offers to babysit from our smitten neighbors started rolling in. If it takes a village to raise a child, then we picked the right village with neighbors as kind-hearted as ours.
Every summer, Edy’s Ice Cream Company gives away neighborhood ice cream parties, selecting 1,500 essays and sending them everything they need to hold a neighborhood party – ice cream included. What a great idea, right? So I sent in that essay about my wonderful neighbors (based off this blog post) – and won! Gallons of ice cream were dropped off on my doorstep in a large Styrofoam cooler loaded with dry ice, along with all the bowls, spoons, scoops, name tags, apron, everything I could need for an ice cream gathering. Yay!
I set the date for Sunday, Sept. 13th. Last weekend I went for a walk with Ben in the stroller, feeling a bit nervous as I put invites on three blocks of doorknobs and sandwiching them in door jambs. It’s an interesting exercise, walking up to the front door of peoples’ homes. You realize how little you know about your neighbors and their lives behind those doors, wondering if they are as enthusiastic about the idea of meeting their fellow neighbors as you are, wondering if they’ll come to your party, wondering if they’ll ALL come to your party, wondering if you’ll be sitting at your party alone, ice cream melting onto the grass.
So yesterday, the big day arrived. With the help of a couple neighbors, I set up a few tables and chairs. I bought some balloons. I put a flower in my hair. And then I waited. Will they come? Will people interact? Will this just be weird for everyone?
I knew everything would be ok when the first couple arrived. This husband and wife have been in the neighborhood for 34 years. Some days her Parkinson’s bothers her, but yesterday she had a good day and felt up to making the most lovely little spritz cookies for the party. “Not too sweet, so they’ll be good with ice cream,” she said.
The older neighborhood residents were the first to arrive – the families with young children tumbled in a bit later. On the name tags, people were asked to include their favorite ice cream flavor. Maple nut and butter pecan were often cited as a favorite among the older group. Middle aged folk loved chocolate. I saw a lot of vanilla or chunky specialties (choc chip, cookies, swirly whirly whatever) on the tags of the kids. And then Lee, who lives kiddy-corner from us, just put “All.” That’s an honest man right there.
Kids ran around the yard and checked out the koi fish in my neighbor’s pond. New friends and old acquaintances talked and laughed. And yes, everyone had a healthy helping of ice cream. All in all, we had around 40-50 people attend – about half the neighborhood!
I watched the last few kids head home at the end of the evening, walking down the sidewalk with chocolate-smeared faces and balloons in hand, and I was thankful. Thankful that the party was a success. Thankful that people came and enjoyed themselves. Thankful to Edy’s for coming up with such a cool promo. Thankful to live amongst such wonderful people.
Want a party for your neighborhood? Get more info here.