Now is the Time to Be a Good Neighbor

September 28 is Good Neighbors Day—and we’re going with it. We think you should too.

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Here’s your chance to prove what a great neighbor you are, or give extra thanks to a neighbor who’s been nice to you. According to a weird calendar, September 28 is Good Neighbors Day! How will you celebrate?

If you do a search online, you’ll find a number of “weird” calendars designating special days of each month that have no earthly reason to exist except for a creative director’s (or just somebody’s) whim.

You could design such a calendar, name your own humorous holidays, and print it with illustrations of your  choosing. Then you’d distribute it. If enough people pay attention to a specific day, who knows: ultimately, you could create a national holiday. “Good Neighbors Day” appears on several calendars in September. In fact, it used to be the last Sunday of the month, but it got to be so popular in knowledgeable circles, now it has its own assigned date!

Being a good neighbor naturally brings to mind Welcome Wagons, introductions, offers of advice and local plumbers, carpenters, pool cleaners, anything that helps a newcomer adjust to the community. It also means a two-way street of casseroles when someone’s in need, checking on an elder who lives alone, rides, pickups, and car pools. It can mean keeping an eye on each others’ homes during vacations, watering plants or lawns, caregiving pets,  or chairing a block party. The most common goals are to provide security and comfort  in a wide variety of situations. Feeling secure is comfort, and comfort means food.

Bring your neighbors some farm-fresh blueberries.

Bring your neighbors some farm-fresh blueberries.

Newbies to the neighborhood probably have no idea where to find fruits and vegetables, other than the local supermarket. Instead of a cake or pie, put together a nice basket of fruit from a farmers’ market or an outstanding farm stand. Include a business card with driving directions, days and hours the place is open and, if you know the owners well, offer to take the neighbor for an introduction. It’s always nice to feel a part of things when everything is strange.

Personally, I think this is a great all-around gift for many occasions, not only hello (and goodbye), but a thanks for being there, welcome home from vacation, it was so nice of you to feed and walk the dog, my porch plants look so healthy! Not everyone may be aware that there’s a fresh fruit and vegetable grower right near by; or they may need that little incentive to shop there. A favor deserves a heartfelt thank-you.

A bouquet of sunflowers from your local farm stand also makes a great gift.

A bouquet of sunflowers from your local farm stand also makes a great gift.

If you’re a good cook or a good baker, use your talents in the kitchen to cover the amenities. Try to incorporate something into your gift that says something special about your community, too. Obviously, if you’ve bought fruit or veggies at that nearby farm stand, you can include the name and location. But if you made a blueberry pie, how about accompanying it with a quart of fresh blueberries? A bouquet of bright green parsley, rosemary and thyme, tied with a red ribbon, to go with a meat casserole? Directions to the chicken farm that sells the fresh eggs in the attached carton, and that you beat into your cake batter? A jar of homemade Blue Ribbon jam from the artisan store where you buy spreads for waffles and pancakes and your homemade bread or muffins? It’s the little extras that you know you’d love, if you were the recipient. (And perhaps next year, you will be.) On the 28th of this month, though, be sure to slip in a cheerful card that says “Happy Neighbors Day!” You may start a trend that goes well beyond September 28 for everyone who lives on your block—and beyond.

Want to bake something for your neighbors? Try one of these recipes from our archives:

Peach Upside-Down Cake with Vanilla Caramel Sauce

Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream

Chocolate and Brown Ale Pound Cake

Long Island Cheese Pumpkin Pie

Heritage Apple Pie

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Joan Bernstein lives in Manorville on land that has belonged to her family for over 100 years, but she grew up on the water in Center Moriches. As a youngster, clamming, crabbing off the dock, snapper fishing and power boating kept her busy when she didn't have her nose in a book. She has bred pedigree Tonkinese cats for the past 40 years. "Eat locally" is her byword whether she's at home or in Russia.