It was a special event when my parents threw a party for either our neighbors or the teachers from our small town schools. I can only remember them doing it a half a dozen times or so, and it definitely made an impression on me.
Mom would buy special food that we didn’t see very often, and Dad would make sure he had some makings for drinks. Tables and chairs would be set for card games. Both would work together to get things ready, and we were pressed into action, too. They wanted to be sure that the guests felt welcomed and enjoyed themselves. It was one of their ways of valuing these people, and recognizing their neighborliness or their efforts to be good teachers for us.
I believe that my parents• willingness to invite people into their home, and to create a fun evening where people could share stories and get to know each other better, meant a lot to those attending. And it certainly set an example for me in the art of helping to build community with those around us.
When Mom and Dad moved from the farm into the Des Moines area, they invited their new neighbors to their home, and began building community there. Dad would take daily walks around the development and I think they were as much about making new friends on his “rounds” than getting the exercise. Pretty soon they were trading garden produce, baked goodies, and dinners with those around them. It meant a great deal to them to create relationships where they were called on for help of one kind or another, and in turn they could ask for it. There was true caring shared in that community.
Even now, my 80-year-old mother is trying new recipes to take down to the St. Vincent de Paul’s center where she volunteers, to share with the workers and other volunteers. The last time I spoke to her on the phone, she was telling me that one of her good friends has been ill and hasn’t been feeling like cooking or eating much, so Mom has been taking meals over to her. She continues to build and take care of her relationships and those who share her life.
My husband and I are blessed to have wonderful neighbors in Ohio. We share many of the same gifts and activities with them as my parents did with theirs • produce, plants from the garden, baked goods, dinner parties, and impromptu get-togethers. It all helps me to feel connected and a part of something larger than our household. I very much enjoy their company, and having a chat here and there as we go about our days. We look out for each other, providing support in tough times and celebrating the good things that come our way.
It is for those reasons that I consider it an honor to host them in our house or out on our patio, weather permitting. I want them to know I care and that they mean a great deal to me. And, I want the children in the neighborhood to have what I had growing up • a great community who shared real connections and were there for each other. Then, as they leave the nest, they may be inspired to build their own caring communities, wherever they land.
I made some banana bread last weekend to take over to our neighbors• house for a dessert pot-luck. I came home with an empty plate, which is always a good sign, so I’ll share the recipe with you. We coupled it with a bowl of dark sweet cherries, for a healthy note.
Neighborhood Banana Bread
5 tablespoons of butter
2/3 cup sugar
2 eggs, beaten
3 ripe bananas, mashed (When bananas get too ripe to eat, I throw them in a plastic bag or container, and put them in the freezer. Then I always have bananas to use for bread, when I’m in the mood to bake. In the freezer, some liquid forms in the container, and I use that in the bread, too.)
1 • cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
• to • teaspoon salt (I use •)
• to 1 teaspoon of vanilla (I use 1)
• to 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans, optional (I use 1 cup because I love them in bread.)
Cream together butter and sugar. Add the mashed bananas and eggs, combine well. Sift together flour, soda, and salt. Add to mixture. Stir in vanilla. Pour into greased and floured loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 to 60 minutes. The top will spring back and the sides will begin to pull away from the pan, when done. Let cool for 20 minutes or completely before running a spatula along the edge of the pan and underneath the loaf to help separate it from the pan. Turn the pan over, cradling the top of the loaf in your hand, and place on a cutting board or plate.
Coaching Inquiries: Did you have communities that were important to you as you were growing up, or after you left home? What impact did they have on you? How do you build communities today? Is there anyone you•d like to include in one of these circles? Are there any communities that you would like to join?
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May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Kate Kriynovich (Kate@LifeTrekCoaching.com)
LifeTrek Coaching International
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