We live in an ordinary neighborhood. Look up and down our street and it's nothing special. No flashy cars, no monstrous houses. Just common folk going about their everyday lives.
My house is small by today's standards. A throwback to that lovely era that was the '70s, its a horrid tri-level. Whoever thought this was a good idea must have been snorting some other trendy drug of that era. So what made us buy it?
Three simple words: Location. Location. Location.
We in the Zen family tend to like our privacy. And our lot -- not horribly big or beautifully landscaped -- backs up to a ranch owned by the county. It extends our yard by about a mile or so of open prairie. This is a rare commodity in these parts, so we snapped at the chance to purchase our not-so-wonderful abode.
At the time we said it was just a starter home. We'd be out in five years max. On to something bigger and better and definitely less common.
Yes, famous last words, I know. That was 15 years ago. Here I sit, in my little not-so-special house on the prairie, always looking longingly at those big houses in nicer neighborhoods.
But looks can be deceiving. As I look back over the years, this unimpressive neighborhood is home to some pretty outstanding people.
When I was pregnant with my last, I was very sick in bed. And I could let my children play on the streets unattended, because I knew my neighbors were all watching out for them.
When my oldest son, who is autistic, was having a difficult time last year, the neighborhood kids, many of them teens, would willingly take time out of their days and walk him down to the pond to go fishing.
When things were tough and our yard a mess, no one complained. Instead, I had neighbors over helping me clean my house and cooking us meals, because they knew we were having a rough go of it.
I can honestly say, we have never had a major problem with a neighbor. Whatever minor disagreements there were have always been solved by a simple knock on the door or a ring of the phone.
Tonight, the kids in our neighborhood -- all 25 of them -- will put on their annual play. Totally written, produced, directed and starring the diverse group of young ones, they've been doing this for six years. Everyone is included and many schools and organizations could learn a lesson or two from this success display of inclusiveness.
Tonight, as we sit and watch their production, I'll be very proud of my four. But I'll also be thankful for my ordinary neighborhood and its not-so-ordinary people.
Humble and Thankful,