I was so taken aback and thankful that my husband would wake to a freshly plowed drive and I wouldn't have to take the kids out to do the chore. That was my indoctrination into how "old fashioned or country" neighbors were supposed to behave. Call it southern hospitality far removed (as we are not in the south) but whatever it was, I wanted to be that!
This was how I repaid my thanks for the plowing job. I stepped right into the kitchen and whipped up a batch of homemade bread. That evening I promptly trudged through the snow between our homes and greeted my new neighbors. This isn't just a "thank you" gesture though, this is an "I'm thinking of you, and you are worth my time." This is not something that needs to only be practiced living outside of the city, you can do this kind gesture to any neighbor, apartment, townhouse, or home. It could be something as small as a batch of cookies, a slice of pie, or other creative gesture. Get to know those who live around you, if you haven't already.
A Handwritten note
At Christmas, a holiday, a thank-you, or just because. You can stick it in their mailbox, you can drop it at the door. Whatever you choose, just let them know you are thinking about them. I believe with all my being that if we all were a little more in tune with those around us there wouldn't be so many lonely people out there.
A Wave & Hello
This seems so simple to me, you see someone, you wave. I have noticed though that this is not always the case and that often people make more of an effort to look away and avoid eye contact than to just say "hello" and smile. We have been very blessed and we have always had fantastic relationships with the neighbors we have lived near. I wonder if it can be in part attributed to just speaking to another human being!
A Kind Gesture
Maybe you are the one with the snow shovel. Maybe you have a rake. Maybe you notice that the neighbor's trashcan has been knocked over and spilled or that the trash collector has left it in the middle of the road. It is amazing how simple a gesture can open the door. We have a neighbor down the road a ways who noticed that we had chickens, she stopped once when she was overloaded with boxes of strawberries that were going bad and asked if we would like them for our chickens.
Lend and Borrow with interest
Let me clarify this one. It may be inevitable when you live next to someone you become aquainted with that sometimes you may borrow something. It could be a cup of sugar, a hammer, a bale of hay, whatever. When you borrow something return it with "interest." If you borrow a cup of sugar, return a bag of sugar. If you borrow a hammer, leave a nice note or a pack of nails. If you borrow a bale of hay, return 2. You get the picture here. We are so blessed that we, and our neighbors have an "open" barn policy between the two of us. We swap tools, hay, whatever needs to be and there is neither one of us who borrows more than the other. If someone breaks something, it is replaced and if something is needed, it is borrowed and returned in better condition than when it was borrowed.
“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”
― C.S. Lewis