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5 Fun, Easy Ways to Love Your Neighbor on ‘National Good Neighbor Day’

5 Fun, Easy Ways to Love Your Neighbor on ‘National Good Neighbor Day’

Did you know there is a national day on the calendar to carry out one of Jesus’ greatest commands?

It’s called “National Good Neighbor Day” and it is celebrated annually on September 28. This nationally-recognized day originated in the 1970s and President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation in 1978, calling on U.S. citizens to observe the day with appropriate ceremonies and activities. 

“National Good Neighbor Day” was originally celebrated each fourth Sunday of September, but now it’s every September 28.

If you have nice neighbors, you might actually be excited about a day to celebrate them and show what a great neighbor you are. But, for me it presents a bit of a challenge.

I’ve lived in a condominium complex for the past 20 years and I’ve experienced neighbors constantly moving in and out on either side and across from my unit. Some stay for a season, some for just a few months. Some leave just as I get to know them, and some remain after years and I still don’t know who they are because I’ve, at times, thought :What’s the use? They’ll be gone as soon as I get to know them.

I have a feeling I’m not alone in my sentiments and insecurities about being a good neighbor.

You might experience the same kind of turnover when it comes to people in your neighborhood. Or, due to job changes or a position in the military or the ministry, you might be the one who is constantly on the move and feeling challenged about meeting new neighbors every time you start to settle in.

Because of the mobility of people today, few stick around in one place long enough to get to know their neighbors. Perhaps that’s why there’s a national neighbors day. And, what better time to extend, get to know the people who live near you, and show them godly love?

Love your neighbor as yourself.

In Matthew 22:39, Jesus said, the second greatest commandment, next to loving God with all your heart, soul, and mind, is to “love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus knew we wouldn’t likely struggle as much to look out for no. 1 (ourselves), but He wanted us to love others at least as much as we love ourselves. That’s a tall order. That means preferring them, and treating them as well as we would prefer to be treated.

Yet, in context, Jesus wasn’t just referring to the folks next door. We tend to think of our neighbors as simply the ones living on either side of us or across the street. But our “neighbors” consist of anyone living, working, or serving in close proximity to us.

Your neighbors are more than just next-door.

Your neighbor is the one you share a cubicle at work with, the one you commute on the bus or train with, the one you see weekly at the bank or grocery store.

Your neighbor is the person you steer that committee alongside, the postal worker you buy stamps from over the counter, the clerk who regularly bags your groceries, and the employee at the discount store who doesn’t appear to be giving you exceptional customer service.

And, your neighbors are those people you might see only when you drive in and out of your driveway, at the same times they do.

According to the National Day Calendar, “It is a blessing to have a good neighbor, but it is even a greater thing to be a good neighbor. Good neighbors often become friends. They watch out for each other, lend a helping hand and are there for advice when asked.  Neighbors offer that cup of sugar when we are short, collect our mail when we are on vacation, watch our homes and sometimes watch our children and our pets. Simply put, being a good neighbor makes good neighbors and develops lifelong friendships.

They encourage us, “To celebrate National Good Neighbor Day, do something nice for your neighbor today.” It also suggests “Use #GoodNeighborDay to post on social media.”

How can I be a good neighbor on National Good Neighbor Day?

If you are struggling with how to do something nice for your neighbor, here are five simple ways to practice National Good Neighbor Day and live out this command to “love your neighbor as yourself:”

1. Introduce yourself to your neighbor.

If you don’t yet know your neighbor(s), knock on the door and if they answer, introduce yourself. Let them know it’s National Good Neighbor Day and tell them you wanted to take the opportunity to let them know you’re glad they’re living next door.

2. Give a neighbor a simple gift.

Leave a plant (everyone loves succulents and they never seem to die) at your neighbor’s door, along with a note saying “Happy “National Good Neighbor Day” and sign it. Make sure you indicate where you live if they don’t yet know who you are.

Chances are, they’ll find a way to say “thank you” or return the favor and that just may be the start of a friendship. 

3. Compliment your neighbor.

Try: “I love what you did with your yard” or “Thanks for being such a great neighbor. You’re so quiet, I barely even know you’re there.” It could lend to surface chit-chat, but that could eventually lead to more conversation.

Consider this for the ‘neighbors’ who aren’t right next door, too. Let those you meet and rely on in your daily life know you recognize something about them.

Above all, be yourself and be honest. As in, “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to meet you yet” or “I apologize for never officially welcoming you to the neighborhood” or “I’ve never introduced myself to you, but I’ve noticed and I appreciate _____________.”

Let go of your desire to present a certain image, be humble and real, and your neighbor just may want to get to know you, too.

4. Treat your workplace neighbors.

For your "neighbors" you work with, bring in coffee or treats that you know your coworkers enjoy. Tell them how glad you are to have them as good neighbors.

5. Be hospitable.

This means opening up your home. But because we rarely do that today for safety reasons and because we value our privacy (and for a list of other reasons), you could open up your heart.

Try showing up at their door and saying (or leaving a note saying):

We are the ___________ family and you can call us “__________ and ___________. We’ve lived (next door to your left/directly across the street/ four doors down at ________ (address or unit number) for __________ months/years; so if there’s anything you need or if you have questions about the neighborhood, please don’t hesitate to ask. Here’s my phone number: __________________.”

Now, if you’re gasping at any of those suggestions, especially the last one, you may be from Southern California, like me, where hardly anyone knows their neighbors and many are hyper about their privacy. I’m told in the Midwest and the South, nearly everyone knows their neighbors and is friendly to strangers. Now wouldn’t that be a nice, friendly place to live? But truly, we can make anywhere a good place for good neighbors of all kinds.

If I can go for it this year and try to meet and be kind to my neighbors on National Good Neighbor Day, you can, too. I encourage you to reach out and show a neighbor Jesus’ love.

After all, how many times a year do you have a recognized day on the calendar to actually obey what Jesus commanded? Not many, I’d say. So, don’t miss it.

headshot of author Cindi McMenaminCindi McMenamin is a national speaker and author of several books who has lived her entire life in California, and the past 30 years in the San Diego area. For more on her ministry or books, including her best-selling  When Women Walk Alone (more than 140,000 copies sold) When God Sees Your Tears, and When Couples Walk Together (co-authored with her husband, Hugh, a pastor) see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

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