How interesting it was yesterday to be at the mall with my daughter shopping for boots and a Sweet Sixteen gift for one of her very good friends. What I observed was very interesting: Most of the people at the mall were walking around without bags in hand, and I thought: Why would anyone want to go to the mall a week before Christmas just to “hang out”? Seems silly, right? Well, not really. Those who hadn’t the funds to shop this year went to the mall to “people watch” and relax and drink in the rush of the holiday season. They all seem to have taken this opportunity to purchase a snack or hot drink and sit on the benches, at the tables, or walk along the hallways with the goal being to “watch” the shoppers go by. Because we had to make our purchases quickly and head home straightaway, I couldn’t join them in their endeavor, but I thought: What a wonderful idea. In our grandparents’ day, I’ve been told regularly that everyone used to sit on their front porches and chit-chat with their neighbors, sharing stories of their families, friends and childhood. Because we all seem to fill our free time with the internet and television, we’ve let those opportunities slip away. We can’t let this happen to our society. We must fight back and start making those connections before we lose the ability to speak one-on-one with one another rather than text and IM. What should we do to start on this path? We need to work to re-integrate habits that create personal connections and memories back into our daily lives.
I walk my dog several times a day, and rarely do I see people sitting on their front porches reading, drinking tea or coffee, and chatting with neighbors; and I consider our little enclave to be quite a friendly one. We do have one gentleman who sits on his front stoop to smoke a cigarette five to six times a day, even in the rain and snow, and he does make a point of saying “hello”; but aside from him, there are really no other “regular” neighborly neighbors.
I’m one of the worst offenders because we have a lovely wrap-around porch as the corner townhome in our development, and we never seem to find the time to sit out on it, even though we have a table and chairs there. So I’ve made a decision. Beginning in the spring, when the weather warms up again, I shall make a point of trying to sit out on my front porch every weekend, if only for 20 minutes, to enjoy the fresh air and get to know my neighbors. Why? We need to make those old-fashioned “connections” that our parents and grandparents once had. They are healthy, inspire memories, and promote friendships. Studies indicate that people who fill their lives with happiness and make a point to relax live longer, healthier lives http://bit.ly/9vfvRm, so finding time to make connections that fill our lives with happiness should be one of our top priorities, right? As they say in “Fiddler on the Roof,” “of course, right!”
So next winter at around this time, I will be sure to blog about how my new porch-sitting practice turned out, i.e., whether I was able to make the sort of “connections” that generations before us so often reminisce about, and what I perceive to be my “happiness” quotient relative to my new “porch connections” practice.
In the meantime, have a wonderful holiday season, and may you and yours have a Happy, Healthy New Year!