I grew up in a tiny town. When I share that with people, I’m usually met with an “I know! I grew up in a small town too” kind of comment. Here’s a few questions that will help us determine whose town is really the smallest:
1. Did you grow up in a town of more than 60 people? That’s not a typo, that’s 6-0, sixty. 60 people total.
2. Did your town have a zip code?
3. Can you find your town on a map?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, Congratulations, your home town is bigger than mine.
Dayton, Alabama is where I grew up and where my parents still live. In a log cabin. On a quail farm. Right between the homes of Mim and Olive.
I didn’t have a real address until I was in middle school. Every year when we recited our address and my classmates said “1234 Main Street” I panicked. I didn’t have a street number. Did I even know my address? Who doesn’t have a street number?? To this day, I can send a letter addressed to my parents at General Delivery, Dayton, AL 36738, and it gets to my parents. Don’t be fooled by that zip code, it belongs to the next closest town.
Here’s another valuable piece of info about the postal service in Dayton: Don’t have a stamp? That’s okay! Just put some change in the mail box with your outgoing mail, and they’ll put a stamp on the letter for you. Need to break a $20? Just leave the stamp off your letter, put a $20 bill in the mailbox, and voila! The post master will not only put a stamp on your letter, they’ll give you change. Imagine my sweet, St. Louis husband’s surprise when I went to the mailbox with a stack of unstamped letters and a handful of change. Lesson learned.
Another piece of info: Olive was Dayton’s post-mistress. She operated one of the only stores, and also took care of the mail. She had a giant jar of rubber bands that I loved to squish between my fingers. And, she let me have all the candy I wanted from the store. It was a pretty sweet gig.
Dayton is tiny, and I seriously love it. Some pretty amazing people have come from Dayton, and I feel like little pieces of my heart are put back together the closer I get to that tiny place.
However, I don’t know a lot about living near people. I’ve never had a trick-or-treater come to my door until three years ago. I’ve never had pizza delivered to my door, until three years ago. And, I’ve always intimately known the person living next door to me, until three years ago. When your neighbors are family or people that you claim as family, it’s pretty disorienting moving into the suburbs of a larger city.
When my husband and I moved into our home shortly after our marriage (3 years ago) I realized I could see the windows of the next person’s house. People I’d never met and had no history with were in my backyard.
Mim and Olive taught me the importance of close friends and family. They helped shape me into a person who is relational to her core. I value relationships and friendships over all other things, and will neglect almost any task to spend time with a friend.
So, when I realized I knew none of these people, these neighbors, I knew I had two options. I could continue on with my life, pretending I lived in Dayton and not recognizing the people all around me, or I could get to know them. The relational side of me always wins out.
It’s a pretty daunting task-this getting to know your neighbor thing. Especially when there are more people on your street than in your home town. The best way I know to meet people is through food. So, for Thanksgiving, my husband and I made goody bags for our neighbors. We haven’t always done the best job of getting to know our neighbors, but we want to do better, and we’re trying that here!
So, watch out neighbors, I’m coming over with some pretty delicious baked goods.
Here’s the cast of characters in the goody bags:
That’s Turtle Back Cookies, Apple Butter, and Pumpkin Bread. I can’t think of a combination of foods that speak to my Fall Lovin’ Soul more than these things. And those colors! Orange, cream, flecks of cinnamon…yes, please!
So, these are going in the bags, but what about the outside of the bag, you say? Easy- I will take every opportunity I can to use stationary. I didn’t want the bags to be fussy. I love the rustic feel and simplicity of Thanksgiving, and wanted that to be evident from the second a neighbor gets the bag. My husband and I drafted a note, wrote a few cards, and made these note cards with rosemary for the front of the bag.
With goodies in the bag and notes attached, these little get to know you goody bags are ready for delivery! They’re waiting by my front door, and will be handed out tomorrow! Just in time for Thanksgiving.
What are some things you’ve done to connect to the people around you? I’d love to hear how you’ve formed relationships in your community!
I hope you have a wonderful, and delicious Thanksgiving!
Check back in later this week for a little history lesson about the Turtle Back Cookie, and one of the easiest, most delicious cookie recipes around!