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Thanks for the Lovely Gift Basket

December 26, 2012

Picture 010Some 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 circled 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 and we soon 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 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 upon their arrival, had moved out a few days earlier, and the new neighbors were coming any day now. We watched anxiously from our windows over 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 while ringing 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, uh, we were bringing them a gift basket.”

A few silent moments passed between us.

“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 who lives across the street.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2012 12:22 pm

    I have TWO new neighbors I have not met several months after they moved in, and like you am very nearly guilty enough to do something about it. I’m a double-basket case.

    Great piece.

  2. December 27, 2012 11:00 am

    Oh my land, sir, I’m not sure if I should laugh or cry…

    I’m of the welcoming-crew sort, but here, in this rural area where we now live, the neighbors keep to themselves and when I tried to have a conversation with one of ’em on the dirt road, the old gal, nodded, grunted, and kept going.

    Neighborly conundrums.


  3. December 27, 2012 2:10 pm

    Heh, for some crazy reason I think I remember you talking about this before. That sounds like a pretty awkwardly funny experience. I always intend to go see my neighbors and be all neighborly – but just like you, the days turn into weeks and then to never. But hey, nothing the occasional wave as I drive past won’t fix.

  4. December 27, 2012 8:16 pm

    Jim, this is hysterical! I can relate- we are slowly consuming a similar item called Blueberry Pie that was meant to be given away…

  5. December 29, 2012 12:48 pm

    Very funny about George! You know, we have new neighbors too and I am going to head over there with a gift basket right after the holidays. Being more neighborly is a Christ like thing to do.


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