By Bruce Eisenhauer
To say it has been a year of difficulties would be true, but a bit of an understatement. We have experienced a lot of division, miscommunication, misinformation and purposefully misleading statements by people of power, as well as big businesses pushing their agendas. As a country, we must now look untrustworthy and unstable to our allies and other democracies that align with us.
As I have stated before, these are products of various political parties driving their agendas. In the immediate future, we have no control over their narratives. However, we can control our thoughts and actions.
I know the saying is overused, but “change starts with me” – or you. We can choose to be confrontational, or we can choose to be kind and lift up instead of tear down.
Our subdivision has been selected in our neighborhood to string lights across the street from house to house. We have a few subdivisions that have been involved in this activity over the last few years, and it looks great along with the regular decorations. There was a flyer on our mailboxes that let us know, and it had the name of a contact person who was willing to help with installation.
Hanging these lights by cable from house to house requires some hardware and carries the potential of danger. We read the flyer and were excited about doing it, but it was our neighbor across the street who approached us. She had already bought her lights and contacted the gentleman who said he would help. She showed us the lights she had purchased so that we could make sure we got the right ones. She did not ask me who I voted for, or how I felt about the proposed infrastructure bill, or if I was vaccinated. I didn’t ask her any of those questions, either.
We did talk about how fun it was going to be to see all the lights on display when everyone was done. We talked about doing something on our street the night the neighborhood promotes driving through the Christmas lights. We talked about how safe we felt in our neighborhood and how we enjoyed watching families walk together and get together on the street as kids and grandkids played together. I know my immediate neighbors, but not more than exchanging pleasantries and exchanging numbers in case something happens when one of us is away.
This little event opened some doors – I know what a lot of my neighbors do for a living now, how many kids they have, if they are natives or relocated here. The gentleman who volunteered to help string lights showed up and we talked for a bit. He lives around the corner from me. I asked what motivated him to help everyone with this project – he said, “It makes me happy to see all the Christmas cheer and coming together as a community, and it gives me the opportunity to meet more of my neighbors. I am learning that I have a lot more in common with my neighbors than I really thought was possible.”
He owns his own business, so he structures his time to be available to help for at least a few hours a day. I asked him if I could pay him for the hardware and for his time. He said hanging the lights was just something that he was doing, and he did not want people to think it was a for-profit business – he just wanted to help.
He finally relented and let me know his cost for hardware, and I covered that plus a little extra. At first, he wouldn’t take the money. But then I explained that it was an opportunity for me to do something good, in case someone could not afford the hardware or the lights but wanted to participate. His gift and my gift could make it possible. He liked that idea, and then asked if I would be able to help sometime if he were in need. Of course, I agreed.
While we were hanging my lights, several of the neighbors came down and asked questions, which he patiently answered. They wanted to make sure it was not a business just trying to make money off the subdivision. He quickly squashed those fears.
I was able to meet a neighbor from the corner who I had only waved to previously. In our brief time talking, I learned that he, too, is a veteran, that he enjoys bowhunting and that he reloads ammunition – a lot of the same things in which I am interested. We parted with the intent of talking more.
On Sunday, I was in the front yard with some family who had come to dinner, and he saw us and walked down. We were able to talk some more. I feel like I not only met a neighbor, but also a future friend. I reflect on the fact that all this really started because of an act of kindness and, except for the time involved, it’s free.
At Meikle Financial Group, we are a family helping other families to experience their goals and dreams of financial security. We hope our work will allow those families to do more of the good things in life, including spending time with friends, neighbors and family.