30 March 2016
Neighbours Day rocked!
After preparing for our Gardner Gathering on Saturday – blowing up balloons, baking delicious yummies, making treat bags for our guests and having a full on tidy-up (inside and out) – my kids and I were all set for a picnic under the trees at our place.
We knew two people were definitely coming to our afternoon tea. And I was absolutely prepared for the possibility that they might be the only neighbours to come over.
When we woke up to rain and wind on Sunday, I thought that would put off all the others who were invited.
Boy, was I wrong!
At 2 o’clock my first neighbour arrived with a beautiful smile and a plate of date scones. Then all of a sudden my driveway was full of the most wonderful people, bringing gifts of food and good cheer.
Despite the rain my house was suddenly filled with sunshine!
After initial introductions we all gathered in my lounge. It was decided (by one of the guests) that we should each take the floor and introduce ourselves, talk a little about where we were from and how we arrived on Gardner Ave.
There was a couple who were newly arrived from Samoa, and another couple who had lived in the same house for 23 years. We had a wide range of ages there too.
We also met some of our neighbours whose families were and still are affected by the recent devastating cyclone in Fiji. A sobering reminder of the need to also support our “neighbours” in the Pacific.
The children quickly made themselves scarce, playing inside and out (when the weather permitted), as the adults got to know one another. It was perfect.
It was also incredibly humbling to hear how thankful everyone was that I had taken the initiative to invite them over. I realised that all my worries and doubts had been so ill founded. Everyone who came had really embraced the idea of Neighbours Day and wanted to make connections and create a new type of family.
One of my beautiful neighbours talked about how we are ‘all one’. I nearly cried as this is something I have firmly believed my entire life. How beautiful to hear your own thoughts being echoed by someone else.
After our introductions we shared the most wonderful afternoon tea. We chatted. We hugged. Those who were shy at first became more confident and those who were more confident allowed others to speak freely.
I believe we live in an amazing country. One rich with diversity. Creating a space where people from your own neighbourhood can get together to celebrate one another is, in no small way, an opportunity to change our whole world for the better.
I can’t recommend the idea of gathering for a Neighbours Day event highly enough. To be able to connect, communicate and celebrate, with those who live close by; it’s one of the antidotes in a modern world that pressures us to divide and not unite.
As the afternoon drew to a close we talked about having a potluck dinner in the near future to keep building up our connections with each other. I can’t wait.
Thank you Neighbours Day Aotearoa, for giving me the motivation to host a gathering. I am, and will always be grateful for the opportunity to help grow our street into a neighbourhood.
Now, what to do for Neighbours Day 2017?
– Susan x
Missed one of Susan’s previous diary entries? Catch-up on all her diary entries here.
p.s. Want to know what 1200 streets and communities taking part in Neighbours Day 2016 looked like?
Check out the photo gallery of neighbours from around the country!
And, of course, please keep sending in your photos – #neighboursday on social media to share, or email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.