Coming to a neighborhood near you!
A weekend vacation at our friends’ cabin provided a Happy Hour inspiration to try at my home. We settled our things in the spare cabin bedroom and recalled the road trip to our friends. I noticed their gaze would stray out the window, through their backyard, and to the cabin a quarter of a mile away.
Our friends were waiting for the sign. They pointed out the window and explained. Their neighbors down the hillside host a Happy Hour at their house a few times every week. Their Happy Hour neon OPEN sign is lit up at their window whenever they choose for neighbors to drop by. Neighbors are delighted to stop by and share a part of their evening and bring snacks or drinks (alcoholic or non) or only themselves for a quick visit.
Soon, the distant neon OPEN sign was spotted and ignited our hosts- we grabbed our sweaters and headed on the short walk. I was excited to meet new friends and was curious how they managed a Happy Hour at their home and excited to meet this neon sign couple.
I made mental notes on the Happy Hour rundown. The hosts greeted us at the door. Their Happy Hour was out back, so we chatted our way through the house to the back lanai, but we could’ve quickly walked around the outside of the house if directed.
I noticed a simple picnic table with a few bottles of assorted beverages, a few glasses, and a pail of ice. That’s it! No floral bouquet centerpiece, no fancy expensive chairs, each with costly matching striped pillows. There were a few plain wood chairs that anyone could pull up for conversation, and in their simplicity, those chairs welcomed a casual sit.
More mental notes: It was an unwritten rule that political conversation was not allowed, and all were happy, no, relieved to oblige. It became a wonderful evening of laughter, and we got to know some new friends. Looking back, we didn’t share a drink, but we learned of their recent house fire and subsequent remodel. We heard about where they were born, how they met, and how they connect to this neighborhood. They unknowingly taught us how to be a good neighbor, listen, and ask the right questions, prompting an intriguing conversation.
The Happy Hour Common Rules:
- Watch your children.
- No politics (of any sort) or diatribes or axes to grind.
- Bring a beverage or snack if you can. Don’t over-indulge or overstay (thus the name Happy Hour).
- Bring smiles with you.
I will invite others to enjoy an iced lemonade with me on the porch swing and watch the birds or squirrels or work on our grocery lists. I will say, “Come, let’s talk of the tomato plant flourishing in your backyard and your mom’s latest hairdo craze. I want to hear about your harrowing road trip or your daughter’s recent job interview. Tell me about the excellent shaving cream you discovered and the assembly skill level for the gas grill that you bought yesterday. I will support your genius effort and craftsmanship or laugh with you on the solid failure. Your limp is improving from knee surgery. How’s that going?”
I want to share Happy Hour with those neighbors that wave on occasion as they pass by. I can offer to help remove the tree limbs that buckled the gutter from last week’s windstorm. I have the perfect tool they can borrow to fix that annoying drippy faucet. Perhaps that neighbor will reciprocate by recommending a piano teacher for my child’s lessons. I found a great banana bread recipe that I can share with neighbors.
I concluded that I could repeat this Happy Hour thing in our neighborhood, and I will be the one to make it happen. I don’t have a neon OPEN sign, but I have an old wooden oar. I’m willing to hang that as my Happy “Oar” sign. Get it? Come to my lanai, bring something to munch or drink, and let’s learn a little more about each other.