Wines were uncorked, the turkey sliced, the cranberries plated. Kids were buzzing about, peeking at the homemade desserts. Friends and neighbors gathered around the table, full plates and grateful hearts all around. And all of this happened a few Saturdays ago in our neighborhood. In June.
It all started two Summers ago when we decided to take back our neighborhood. It's said that people move to the suburbs to connect with community, but you wouldn't have known it if you drove into our small, quiet, well-maintained neighborhood just two miles from downtown. Folks drove up their driveways, into their garages and closed their doors. A few words might have been exchanged on Sunday nights when garbage cans were rolled out. But none of us really knew each other.
It was fairly simple. One warm Spring Friday evening, we rolled our barbecue in front of our house. We passed out invitations a few days before. That first night there were just a handful of us. But we started to learn each other's stories, to exchange contact information, and to build relationships. As the weeks progressed, folks started stopping by as they drove past our party, grill smoking away and lawn chairs gathered in the parking places in front of our homes. We were a motley crew, to say the least, but we were starting to act like neighbors.
Along the way we picked up a few more families, growing from three or four households to many more. As we grew, dinner themes started to be tossed around. We're not sure who started the idea of Thanksgiving in June, but it was most likely Valerie, the wife of one of Danville's best-known car guy, Dave. (Val definitely started Italian night, which we celebrated last month with pans and pans of pasta and more garlic bread than should be allowable).
So there we were, one Saturday night in June, hungry and salivating, holding our paper plates in eager anticipation. The folding tables were covered in fall-colored tablecloths, every square inch covered with dishes. Dishes holding potatoes, yams, dressing, cranberries, brussels sprouts, salad and desserts. Kids swarmed the dessert table, poking fingers at Joanie's polenta pound cake and asking about Dawn's platter of cookie "hamburgers." Mike carved the turkey he had barbecued all afternoon, handing out tastes to curious onlookers.
And it was in that moment that I paused to give thanks--for a group of neighbors who love to laugh, to celebrate life, to think up dinner themes and to show up, week after week, in order to spend time with a bunch of former strangers who, around the table and over a few years, managed to become friends.