I tried to do a little yard work yesterday, but it rained all day. Squish squish. Not good for raking.
Later in the afternoon, the rain turned to snow. We woke up today to this, taken from our front doorstep.
It’s pretty. I like winter.
The 14 mph winds make it cold, however. I can handle the 29-degree temperatures, but the biting wind cuts through me.
Since winter weather was predicted, the city was ready for it. The main roads, including through our neighborhood, are fine. I had no trouble running a few errands this morning.
But those final leaves got buried. Will the snow clear in time to rake them to the curb, where the city will collect them? Yes, I imagine so, since the leaves already at the curb are buried too.
I was hoping to mow the yard one more time before winter.
I know a guy around here who mowed his yard last February – in between snow showers. I’m not kidding.
I still might mow, if the ground hardens enough after the snow melts. I’ve mowed the first week of December before (after a late-November snowfall, as well). I’ve also stopped mowing at Halloween and called it good.
According to weather.com, we’ve received almost 6 inches of precipitation this month. The average for November is 3.38 inches.
No wonder my yard is slushy under the snow cover.
The city repaved the street in front of our driveway this summer. Hopefully we won’t see the potholes this winter and next spring as the temps warm up and the road thaws.
Safe at home
I’ve met a few of the neighbors in the year and a half we’ve lived in this neighborhood, but not very many, really. I see them doing yard work in the summer, when I’m outside too. A good New Year’s resolution might be to meet a few more of them, to learn their stories.
But most of the time, we remain inside our well-insulated houses. It’s easy to not get involved.
Since no one trusts each other anymore, I wonder how successful efforts to talk with neighbors might even be.
I can’t forget a trip I took to Mexico City almost 30 years ago where I saw Third World poverty up close. It wasn’t unusual to see three generations living in a one-room shack. In crowded Mexico City, neighbors lived very close to each other, with thin walls between them.
When one family had no food to eat, the neighbors shared what little they had, because the favor would get returned. Neighbors took care of each other, literally.
Those Mexicans were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met.
Rich materially, poor in spirit
Americans, in contrast, are lonely. Depression, stress, suicide, overeating, bullying … so many of us hide our true selves. It’s easy behind the walls of our mansions. All of us – and I mean all of us – live in mansions compared with most people in the world.
We don’t know how rich we are. And how poor in spirit.
The Christmas season emphasizes both extremes. We spend money we think we have on relatives who don’t need what we’re buying for them, while we miss the whole point of the holiday: Christ’s birth as a baby. God’s gift to us was a child who, when He grew up, showed us how to live in harmony with God and with each other.
Jesus didn’t give material possessions.
He and his father were carpenters. They could have built something tangible and offered that as a gift to their close relatives. Perhaps they did that.
But that’s not Jesus’ legacy. His gift to us? Himself.
A human’s heartbeat doesn’t wrap well under the tree. But I have nothing better to offer you than … me.
Perhaps this is why I struggle with Christmas every year. I’m horrible at figuring out what material gifts are meaningful to those closest to me. (I don’t buy much for myself either. I suppose I should buy new sneakers one of these days, since my everyday shoes have holes in them.)
I’m also not good at giving myself as a gift. It’s easy to stay inside my warm, comfortable house, like everyone else around here does.
When we moved into the neighborhood last year, my wife baked some cookies and took a tray to several of our immediate neighbors. We rang their doorbells and introduced ourselves. The neighbors all said thanks and chatted with us for a few minutes, but nothing has developed since with any of them.
We stay in our own shells, in our comfort zones.
We live in our own worlds, and don’t connect with others who may think differently than we do.
Where’s the common ground? What connects us?
If we don’t share our lives with others, we’ll never find that common ground.
As an introvert, I use that as an excuse to keep to myself. I wonder if many extroverts are hiding insecurities, so that’s their reason not to take the next step. We all have our reasons, don’t we?
Perhaps we need each other anyway.
There’s a Christmas gift worth sharing.