Sunday, December 22, 2013

Gazing out the window

The end of 2013 I've focused almost the entirety of my energy and time at work. There has been little time for writing or reflection. I have had a few moments to relax and enjoy our new house and neighborhood. Castle 2.0 (what we call our new home) has presented us with many surprises and adjustments. I have come to realize that everything happening outside our doors and windows of our new home make life more meaningful than anything that takes place on the inside.

Charlie definitely agrees with this statement. He always loved the windows at our other house, but now our window ledges are at his level, and the all-glass storm doors allow him to monitor everything that happens without having to put forth much effort.

He appreciates, just as much as I do, the fact that everyone in our new neighborhood comes over to talk to us. They want us to have their phone numbers. Making our street a welcoming, connected place is important to them.

Our neighbors make our community feel like a truly special place.

I've always talked to the people who live around me, doing my best to get to know them. But I've recently been reminded how intentionally working to build relationships and community with one another is what fosters a great space for people to inhabit a better life.

When we were looking at purchasing Castle 2.0, one of the neighbors came over to tell us about this special street. He glowed about his love for his neighborhood, how he raised his kids here, and the fact that everyone in the neighborhood knows one another and does things together. He briefly explained to us that the street is closed down on the Fourth of July, and there is a neighborhood parade and fireworks. He told us we would grow to love our house if we decided to buy it.

We haven't experienced the July festivities yet, however other little events have begun to foster that love of which he spoke.

About a month after moving and becoming acclimated to our new surroundings, we were driving through the neighborhood on the way home. Some people like to decorate for Halloween, but I noticed that an awful lot of homes had outdoor decorations in their yards.

I said to Michelle, "I guess people around here really love Halloween."

We didn't think much of it, aside from that casual observation. Then I was stopped by our neighbor (the same one who told us about the Fourth of July) when I was mowing the front yard one weekend in October.

"Has anyone told you about Halloween yet?" he asked.

"No. Why?" I asked.

"Our neighborhood is a bit of a destination for trick or treating," he began to explain. There are a lot of kids in the neighborhood and we are a safe place for families, so people drive in from other neighborhoods. You should be prepared for 800 kids." He went on to explain that our street goes out of the way to decorate and that we should be prepared for all the activity at his house every year with extensive ghosts and goblins floating through the yard on a massive pulley system.

A week later, another neighbor made his way across the street asking me if anyone had warned me about Halloween yet. When I responded that I was told about the number of trick or treaters he said, "When we first moved here we didn't believe what we were told. I'm telling you, believe it. Be ready." Then we received the same warning from the woman who lives on the other side of us.

I didn't want to disappoint these 800 kids. So I went and purchased a few lights and did some modest decorating. I wasn't as modest in the way I hoarded candy at the store.

Charlie approved. So did the 735 trick-or-treaters.

And because work has consumed me since October, I've been unable to write about Halloween and all of the other exciting surprises Charlie has encountered with us in our new home. What reminded me to reflect my excitement and appreciation was the scene outside tonight. Apparently, every weekend before Christmas luminaries are lit.

This amazing sight captured my gaze as I finished shoveling snow. It's moments like these in life that make me thankful for everything that is right in the world amidst all the pessimism, negativity, tragedy, and daily carelessness and drudgery of humanity often surrounding us.

I guess my point is this: I'm reminded I need to be a little more like Charlie. I need to remember the importance of stopping, relaxing, and gazing out the window more often. Hopefully our new home and neighborhood will help me do just that.


  1. Thanks, Todd! This is a great reminder to us all. I am thrilled that you are living in such a cool neighborhood. I feel the same about my new neighborhood, although we didn't get nearly that number of trick-or-treaters. Blog on, my friend! You inspire me to do the same.

  2. You're making way too excited about moving to our new home! K. Pesek