The Easter Bunny Santa came to our house this morning and the kids were thrilled. I was second guessing the baskets late last night, fearing they would be disappointed there wasn’t more candy. Or a chocolate bunny. My fears were unfounded as everyone loved their new outfits and shoes, changing into them as soon as we were home from church. The day was beyond beautiful; warm, sunny, and with a slight breeze. I was outside reading my book when up drove my neighbor across the street with a bag from Hilliards. These are the same neighbors who have taught me how to roast a whole chicken and a pot roast in the oven, how to make latkes—including purchasing me a bonafide latke potato grater—and who show up on my doorstep and drop off glasses of wine and appetizers. They were also the ones to call me out the first time I missed a day of blogging at the start of my Lenten offering, with an email whose subject line was, “Local Blogger Falls Off Wagon.” They are like the best parts of my parents, my friends, and my sisters all rolled into one fabulous couple we drink wine with. The two of them (I’ll call them J & A) are like our family. And we love them.
So up rolls J with a paper bag from Hilliards, our local chocolate and candy store. (Which freakishly enough is right next door to my dentist’s office, but I digress.) The kids swarm him like bees to a hive, but I hear him say, “This bag’s for mom.”
What? An Easter treat for moi?
He hands me the bag, I peek in and exclaim, “Chocolates? I love chocolates!.” Whereupon I proceed to open up the beautifully wrapped box. What do you think is inside?
You guessed it. A SOLID DARK CHOCOLATE EASTER BUNNY the size of my hand. If I could have jumped up on J’s back without crushing his spine I would have done it.
A SOLID CHOCOLATE EASTER BUNNY THE SIZE OF MY HAND! I still can’t believe it. With a childish grin I went back to my seat in the yard, stripped the bunny down, bit off his ears, and you know what? His head didn’t break off. The chocolate didn’t suck. I’m pretty sure that I heard the angels in heaven singing. Another childhood dream fulfilled. Check.
A few hours later we headed off to another neighbor’s house for Easter linner. Or dunch. They really haven’t come up with a good word for lunch and dinner combined, which I don’t understand since “brunch” is such a basic word, but I digress again. It was a pretty sizeable crowd with 14 kids and about 12 adults, and the food and company was fabulous. The kids did an egg hunt and played wiffleball while the adults hung out and talked. It reminded me of the family gatherings we were able to be a part of when we lived in Arizona; houses full of family; aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, and friends all laughing, joking, relaxing, and sharing about life. I love living here in Mass and wouldn’t change it for the world, (I can actually grow vegetables c’mon) but occasionally nostalgia creeps in and there is a longing for family festivities that is difficult to satisfy. That’s the one thing about living far away—holidays, birthdays, and special occasions with our loved ones are missed. Sometimes deeply.
(Flashback)…When we were looking to purchase a home upon first returning to the East Coast, we had originally put an offer on a house in New Hampshire. I loved everything about that house; the Gambrel style, the expansive rolling back yard, the quiet neighborhood street it faced. We had been living in a hotel room for about 2 months and the walls were closing in on me. We put an offer on this house, but ultimately ended up losing it. I vividly remember being so angry we had lost it; not only was there no end in sight to our hotel stay, but I couldn’t imagine ever finding another home I would love as much as that one. As controlling as I am and as angry as I was, I still felt like there was a reason we wouldn’t be living in New Hampshire, and trusted that God had a bigger plan, a reason we were supposed to live somewhere else.
Relax, this isn’t the part where I jump on the couch and start speaking in tongues, I’m just saying there are times when you just have to trust in His providence and finding our home was just such a situation.
(Real time…) Almost four years later I know with certainty that our current home is the place we were meant to live. It sat vacant for over a year before we purchased it, which was at the boom of the housing market and located on our street—a long, quiet, culdesac that would be inviting to just about anyone. I truly believe it was waiting for us to find it. And find it we did.
The house was perfect in everyway, the yard large enough for a garden. The street was full of mature trees that sprinkled summer’s shadows on the ground and turned to beautiful autumn colors in the fall. The floors were newly refinished, the walls freshly painted, and (at the time) each kid had their own bedroom. Did I mention the fabulous screened porch off the back?
We loved the house, but looking back I know that’s not why we were supposed to live here. Because the most important reasons we love our home, are the neighbors who surround us. My children have formed friendships with other kids on our street and the street behind us that will last a lifetime. They run from yard to yard in relative freedom and safety, enjoying the kind of childhood I had always hoped to give them. We have gotten to know almost every person on our street extremely well; sharing and borrowing tools and sugar, helping pump basements, laughing over beers, venting over coffee, and supporting those in need with hot meals. My children know if there was ever an emergency they could go to just about any person’s home and receive help. It is Wisteria Lane, without the drama.
Today two of our closest neighbors blessed us with chocolate bunnies and Easter linner. They loved us like family and included us in their celebrations. They were and are, our family away from family. We may love them differently than our biological relations in Arizona and West Virigina, but we love them just as deeply. Their presence in our lives makes our life complete and living in this house on this street wouldn’t be the same without them.
So thank you neighbors, for blessing us in so many ways all the time, but especially on this Easter Sunday. I am humbled.