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Thanks for the Lovely Gift Basket

December 6, 2011

Some new neighbors moved into the house across the street from us a few months ago.

Being the self-centered and aloof person that I am, I usually don’t give much thought when it comes to these things. But for some odd reason I got it in my head that I was going to turn over a new leaf and show generosity and a welcoming spirit to these new folks.

I imagined myself ringing their doorbell, surrounded by my wholesome family weighed down with gift baskets and steaming casseroles, as the new neighbors, sweating profusely and surrounded by unemptied boxes, open the door, and are immediately overwhelmed with our kindness. They invite us in and unravel their grief and loneliness as we solidify our caring friendship by inviting them to a newly formed small group bible study that happens to start meeting at our house next Tuesday.

“That Moore family was such a Godsend!” they would say as they watch us walking back to our house arm in arm singing Amazing Grace.

Anyway, I made a big deal about it with my wife and 16-year old daughter, sternly admonishing our family for not being more Christ-like in the past. “We are going to make a gift basket and bring it over next Sunday.” I announced.  They both shrugged their shoulders and said, “Sure.”

The next day I made a special trip to the local gourmet market and carefully selected a wide range of very expensive organic, all-natural and artisanal gift items which showed that not only were we Christ-like, but also very concerned about their health and the sustainability of our local farmers. There was home-made strawberry jam; all-natural chips with an exotic salsa; almond butter; and several cookies from the bakery. I noticed a lovely basket hanging at the register, and took that too.

We had heard that the old neighbors, whom we did not bring any welcome baskets when they arrived, had moved out a few days earlier, and the new neighbors were coming any day now. We watched from our windows for the next few nights to see if the house lights came on. Finally, on a Saturday night, we noticed some activity. “They’re here!” I said to my daughter.

After church on Sunday, we carefully arranged the items into the basket, and carried it over to our new neighbors. “What a good example I am setting for my daughter,” I thought to myself as I rang the doorbell. Soon we heard footsteps arriving, and the door swung open.

“Hey, guys.”

It was George, the old neighbor. He looked down at our gift basket.

“Oh. Hi, George.”


Heh – we thought the new neighbors had moved in and were bringing them a gift basket. So they’re not here yet?”

“Yeah, well, they’re moving in next weekend.” George explained. “Gina and the kids are already in Texas. I just came back for a few days to take care of a couple things before moving out.”

We trudged back quickly to our house, the red blood still burning in our cheecks. I placed the gift basket on the breezeway counter. “We’ll just do this next weekend,” I told my daughter.

The next weekend was busy, so we couldn’t do it. But those cookies would have gotten stale, so we ate them. The basket still looked pretty robust, though.

The weekend after that my daughter was away with a friend, so I decided to wait.

The next two weekends we were travelling on summer vacation.

Then school started up for my girls again, which was just crazy getting them settled in and all.

One September weekend, I had the munchies really bad, and took those salsa chips and sauce. They were great.

Another day my wife needed that almond butter for a recipe

My mother visited a couple weeks later, and really enjoyed the strawberry jam.

The new neighbors have a splendid display of Christmas lights up now. I wonder if they ever look at our house and wonder who the silent family is living across the street.

Photo by Nance.

28 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2011 8:04 am

    There’s something charmingly Griswoldesque about this post.

    I love your transparency. You’re way more honest than me! I probably would have said, “George, we saw that you were here alone, and wanted to bring you a few snacks to tide you over. [optional, in case the basket had a big “welcome” ribbon on it] and welcome you back.”

    I’m glad the chips and salsa hit the spot!

    • December 7, 2011 7:32 am

      I really didn’t have much time to think about it. When he answered, all I could do was tell him exactly why we were there! Boy, did we feel like dopes.

      • December 7, 2011 9:36 am

        See, that difference between us? When you’re on the spot, you go with truth.

        I quickly think up a lie.

        It’s not pretty, my facility for lies.

  2. Katdish permalink
    December 6, 2011 8:21 am

    Smiling and nodding in guilty solidarity. You could always spray paint that basket a festive red or green and make it over there before Christmas. Or maybe a soft pastel. Then you could put it off until Easter. Great post, Brad.

    • December 7, 2011 7:33 am

      I think it would just keep getting put off. The empty basket was still sitting on the shelf in the breezeway up until a week ago, when I finally put it in storage.

  3. December 6, 2011 10:18 am

    I think I have done something similar to this in the past. The road to eating all of the gift food myself is paved with good intentions, though.

    • December 7, 2011 7:34 am

      Good intentions — exactly! At least I started out that way. Boy, does it ever take strong will power to see things through. Especially when the spirit that originally moved you moved on.,.. 🙂

  4. December 6, 2011 12:09 pm

    I believe it’s more about the God who rewards. Our hearts, motives and intentions weigh so much before Him. All things lay bare before Him

  5. December 6, 2011 12:51 pm

    A pleasurable read. Well done Bradley.

  6. December 6, 2011 5:00 pm

    This was a great read, Bradley, and I do believe you’ve eavesdropped on some of my inner dialogue. I’ve actually delivered home baked zucchini bread to several new neighbors when they were moving in. Still, they only wave politely as I drive down the street, not acknowledging what I godsend I was. Maybe I’m really bad at baking?

    I’m coveting the snowfall thing you’ve got happening here on your WordPress site. You must have mad techno-wizardry skills.

    • December 7, 2011 7:37 am

      The snowfall thing is kind of automatic with WordPress (yay WordPress!). I am a total dork when it comes to the technology of all this stuff. I do the bare minimum.

      I’m sure your zucchini bread gift didn’t go under-appreciated. 🙂

      • December 8, 2011 6:46 am

        Shew! Glad to hear it was a WordPress snow thing. At first I thought I was having some serious issues with my laptop. Then with my eyesight. Relieved!

        You’re such a great storyteller, Brad. Full of real.

  7. December 6, 2011 5:59 pm

    I must live in your neighborhood, because I’m the same way. I feel bad and always mean to do well, but I never get around to it. Although maybe you could tell your new neighbors that it’s the thought that counts?

    • December 7, 2011 7:40 am

      Yes, I’ll transmit my good intentions via ESP and hope that they receive my thought waves. (that thought counts too, doesn’t it?) 🙂

  8. December 6, 2011 7:31 pm

    a good story about when our hearts are in the right place, but the people aren’t.

  9. December 6, 2011 9:39 pm

    This is so true! We get these grand ideas of great things we want to do and then we drop the ball. Why do we do that? It is good that Jesus convicts, forgives and sends us. Perhaps when He sends us it is the right time. When we get a bright idea and try to do it on our own, we fail. With Him, you’ll do better next time.

  10. December 7, 2011 5:06 pm

    I *love* this!!!

    Where’s Ann Kroeker? (reprint, reprint 🙂

  11. December 7, 2011 9:31 pm

    Oh, Bradley. The wrong neighbor, the artisanal reference, the intentions, the munchies, the whole shebang…such a good piece.

  12. December 8, 2011 3:26 am

    Hilarious. My favorite part was Amazing Grace, arm in arm. Thank you!

  13. December 8, 2011 11:33 am

    I should add how your post inspired me. Maybe I’ll write a post of my own and link back here. Either way, you’re inspiring.

  14. December 8, 2011 2:07 pm

    Love this, love this. You crack me up! And oh I can relate. When our neighbors moved in across the street I got it in my head that I would bake a welcome plate of cookies. I delivered the lovely looking cookies (chocolate mint) only to realize later when I actually tasted one that I’d used waaaaay to much mint extract. They were terrible!

  15. December 8, 2011 5:36 pm

    I love this! In fact, I’m impressed you waited so long to eat the whole basket after the debacle with George.

  16. December 8, 2011 11:32 pm

    I love this.
    And all the visuals.
    And the fact that I’ve so been there.

    Self-righteousness gone wrong is such a drag .

  17. Phil permalink
    December 9, 2011 5:41 pm

    Dear Brad,
    I am your new neighbor and we are home tonight…in case you have time to get another basket.

  18. December 10, 2011 8:31 am

    Oh, I’m just cringing here, Brad. SO uncomfortable! Brilliant post, though. Eek.

  19. December 11, 2011 1:30 am

    Hilarious Brad.

    I’ve seen a lot of teenagers doing this awkward moment thing on their fb status. Yours would be:

    That awkward moment when you take a gift basket to the new neighbor and the old neighbor opens the door.

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