Ever since my first success at introducing myself to my neighbors, I’ve wanted to repeat that action tenfold. I have made the effort to reach out to others on our streets (we live on a corner), but haven’t made great strides in what I am now calling my “Neighbor Project” in conversations with my friends who have read my blog. With the Christmas season fast approaching, and our little neighborhood getting brighter and brighter with each addition of lights trimming roofs and blow-up Santas riding motorcycles, I have wanted to do something special for my neighbors that would definitely make me get outside and take more action.
Although I now know I must get out of the house, I tried to convince myself to do all sorts of things that didn’t actually involve me getting further than my mailbox. At one time in the last few months, I thought it would be a good idea to send our Christmas card to each neighbor. I persuaded my unconscious to agree that mailing out a card with random kids’ pictures on it that said their names and Seth and my name on it wouldn’t be creepy or anonymous. I even considered getting a picture of Seth and I from when we hadn’t had kids yet and Seth’s face wasn’t so red and my gut wasn’t so hang-y, then putting this picture in with our Christmas card. That way, I could reason, I wasn’t just sending a card with some kids’ faces on it. I was going to write a note about how much I hope to get to know them and then pay forty-five cents for each of the eighteen houses on our streets, so the mailman could take them from my mailbox, back to the post office, and then return them to my neighborhood…without me having to meet anyone! My introversion would win and I would be doing a good deed too!
But then I thought if I’m going to pay eight dollars and ten cents to mail something out to people that live RIGHT NEXT TO ME that I would be insane and not really be completing the purpose of my Neighbor Project.
Thus, the pfeffernussen. The pahfeffernewessan…a…what? Actually, you pronounce it “fef-er-noose-n”. Instead, I decided that I would use that eight dollars to buy some flour, sugar, milk, butter, and a slew of spicy ingredients that make up a heavenly cookie that my father made my sister, mother, and I at Christmastime each year. There are a variety of ways to make this cookie; it’s usually coin sized or smaller. When I made it a few years back, when I was teaching, my students always thought I was eating dog food because it was made that small. I fondly remember my dad once trying to speed up the process of making the ropes you have to roll out before cutting each tiny piece. The Play-Doh noodle-maker set seemed a perfectly quick way to make the ropes. After that Christmas, however, we didn’t ever use that Play-Doh toy again and instead went back to the old, annoyingly lethargic method of hand-rolling and slicing.
Once I realized that my card sending would not be the best method of meeting my neighbors, I set towards making my pfeffernussen. It is ready to go. I made these cute tags to explain that I wasn’t gifting dog food.
I’m going to also place a sticker on the back that has our names, but most importantly, I’m going to take them to my neighbors. No joke, typing “take” just now gave me a mini-heart attack. I know I’ve had success in the past, but just like anyone who freaks out when they take a test, past success doesn’t always mean I won’t sweat this one in front of me.
The good thing is that I’ll have my kids with me. I plan on doing this sometime in the evening this week. If my “here you go person I’ve never met, have a cookie from a stranger” goes south, I can at least count on my kids to say something too cute or funny and relieve some of the pressure. Hopefully, they’ll run from each neighbor’s to the next. Or maybe, I’ll meet a future friend.
I’m going to do this. I’m going to do this. Does saying it a million times in your head make it better? I’m going to do this. Wish me luck!