Christmas Street Parties


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It reminds me of that scene at the end of Doctor Who episode, The Idiot's Lantern. The Doctor has just saved the universe yet again; the Queen has been crowned; and tables are set outside, end to end with chairs along the street. Rose looks around and there's the Doctor, back in the natural world. They embrace and sit down to a nice meal in the street among the street's residents.

While it's not exactly like that in this case, with another year's Christmas, comes another year's Street Party. We're the only street that I know of that has street parties annually, but that can't mean that there aren't others out there, right?

These street parties are usually held in our cul-de-sac, but invitations stretch down the road that the the cul-de-sac is connected to. How very French, cul-de-sac, but better than a 'dead end' or 'no through road'... which it is. Ultimately, it's the safest place to have a party, because there is not much traffic through it, and whatever traffic there is can be somewhat controlled.

Even though the tradition can at times seem useless and a waste of time when all you want to do is sit at your laptop rather than be outside trying to socialise with others, it really is a great way to get to know your neighbours and see what has changed in the street(s) over the past year.

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Getting to know your neighbours

It seems in this day and age, most people wouldn't know the name of their next door neighbours let alone get along with them. Perhaps in an apartment environment, this would be different since you use the same avenues of escape exiting and entering the building, but once you move to a house setting, that extra few metres is too much to bother going over and knocking.

Getting to know your neighbours has great advantages, for example you can rely on them to watch you house when you're out. They're not the all-seeing, but they'll watch out for you if you watch out for them too. Similarly, they'll help collect your mail when you're away, perhaps on vacation, and even at times help to pull your rubbish bins back up your driveway to where they're stored when it's not collection day — just because they were doing theirs anyway, why not?

It's nice to have a little community going, so that you can walk by and wave at the neighbours as you go out. Sometimes if they're going out also, they'll even offer you a lift...

But I don't make a habit of doing that too often.

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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Sometimes there can be no changes for years, and then in the space of a year, three houses can be sold and three new families have moved in. Just in the cul-de-sac, not even counting the connecting street. Why would you care if your distant neighbours have changed? Perhaps you wouldn't, but they bring with them interesting and engaging stories and personalities.

The numbers of Asians in my neighbourhood have tripled in the past year, when we were often the only family or one out of two families which were Asian, this number is now at 5, inclusive. There were families from China and Singapore, who had been in Australia for varying amounts of years, and we discussed the previous places they'd owned or rented as well as the places they'd come from.

They'd seemed standoff-ish from afar, but as we gathered, it was clear these were all friendly people. They quickly bundled into their houses or stuck to their own piece of land day-to-day, giving you the impression — they're just another stuck up group of people. But it's only after conversing you realise they are surprisingly open, giving, funny and welcoming people. Don't judge a book on its cover?

While it's a tiring time trying to socialise with so many you don't necessarily talk to at length on an ordinary day, in the end it's both a worthwhile practice and good exercise. I learned some new things today about Asian countries, tried kueh bangkit and realised there were actually kids in my neighbourhood of my age for once. I got stuffed up to my eyeballs with food.

Let's see how many will be here again to join us the next year and what they will bring this time.

Many thanks to Ruben who helped me plan those turkey-sandwich-things above, and helped me shop for them too!