We had a lovely, relatively quiet day at home. Our children opened presents and we played with new toys and constructed new puzzles and thousands of tiny Lego pieces. Our son learned how to ride a scooter and our daughter to weave on a loom. Our younger daughter discovered that if she pushes her younger brother in a stroller and dumps him out she is just as likely to sustain injury as he is. Our youngest son learned that he can destroy just about any project his older siblings are working on if he really puts his mind to it, and something tells me he’s going to figure out how to use his brother’s scooter to accomplish it more efficiently.
We made and received phone calls and Facetimes with loved ones and two different neighbors stopped by with gifts for our children. Individual gifts. For each child. I couldn’t believe it. Beautifully wrapped, fancy bows, thoughtful, age-appropriate gifts for each child. My own in-laws can’t be bothered to go to such trouble, or at least I assume they can’t. The box they sent sits unopened in our laundry room, a purgatory of sorts while HW decides what he wants to do with it. He can’t win, really. If he sends it back, he’s a cold-hearted jerk. If he dumps it in the garbage or opens it and doesn’t acknowledge it, he’s a cold-hearted jerk. If he opens it and reaches out to them, the whole game starts over again from the beginning.
Back to our wonderful neighbors. I’ve written about one of them before, so I’ll take a moment to write about the others. They are a married couple, I’m guessing in their early eighties, mostly because of the ages of their five children. Property here is expensive and the lots are small, and we only have a fence that comes up to my lower chest (so about mid-waist on a normal-sized adult), so we see them frequently. He likes to sit outside in the back with a cigar in the morning and the evening, and our kids love to run out to say hello, and even our dog has stopped barking at him when she sees him. She has come over a few times, even though she doesn’t get around very well and speaks limited English. They had special treat bags for the kids at Halloween and brought a special treat for Thanksgiving.
We brought them a Christmas card a few weeks ago. Surprised, she chuckled and said, good-naturedly, “Americans. We celebrate Christmas on December 25.” This morning they brought a bag of toys for our children and invited us to join their entire family for Christmas dinner. I felt incredibly guilty. I didn’t have anything for them, and had no idea what to bring. It never occurred to me that we would do anything like that. I wish I had.
HW found a florist and bought a beautiful orchid bouquet to bring, but we only stayed for a few minutes, because, well, we are a lot to handle, and they were expecting a house full of people. They were so kind and welcoming and I so wish I had spent more time these past months practicing my Spanish. Their children said they talk about us a lot and say we are helpful and kind and we look out for them. I feel like we have been barely decent neighbors.
I am so thankful to be in a place where there are people like that, just next door. Sometimes I think about how nice it would be to have some extra space or a pool or a proper garden. But really, I don’t care about any of those things. Money can’t buy, and even the best realtor can’t find, truly good people to be neighbors. I am happy where we are, and for really the first time, where we are feels like home.