Unknown to many of us, today is National Good Neighbor Day—a celebration of little gestures and genuine kindness, of ardent smiles and heartfelt treats, of true service and real gratitude. A day when we can celebrate the goodness of those around us.
Our family is definitely one of those we frequently forget to openly love and appreciate. We’ve always been so confident of their presence and support that we often forget to acknowledge their priceless contributions in our lives. But we can remind them of their worth in simple ways. We can offer to do some of the household chores—that admit it, we’ve always artfully tried to avoid—for our parents or housekeepers. Or we can walk or bathe the dog for a sibling. Or clean after ourselves for a change. That gourmet masterpiece we’ve been trying to perfect? We can cook it for them for dinner.
We can also do something for our literal neighbors. You know, the ones who had to stuff cotton in their ears when we were having our extreme tantrums as a child? The ones who had to patiently bear the noise we create when we have events and gatherings at home? They are the ones who are literally one wall away from us but who we never bothered to care for. Or maybe we did at times. Have extra food from lunch? We can give it to them instead of throwing those out. For all we know, we could have made a really tiring day a little better because they wouldn’t have to cook their food anymore. We could also tone down our karaoke volume so that our melodious singing voices need not trespass into their houses and disturb their peace.
For those with roommates—whether they are siblings, friends, or complete strangers renting the same room—you might want to offer them that moist chocolate cake or that extra big chips you always bring home but never share. You can also lend a pen or a mirror or whatever it is you have that they’ve been futilely searching for half an hour instead of simply minding your own business as usual. A little sensitivity can go a long way.
For the people in our workplace—whether it’s a school or an office—surely, a cup of coffee would work wonders to a bedraggled-looking colleague who looks like all his deadlines fell on the same miserable date. You can also throw in some much-needed compliments here and there. You never know but you might just end up boosting the confidence of someone who’s admired you for so long. Or inspire someone whose intelligence might one day lead to the discovery of cancer cure. You might also want to laugh or smile at or at least appreciate someone’s joke that was so far from funny, but was so obviously well-intended. And while you’re at it, go ahead and greet the guards and utility personnel whose service has been so tremendously discreet that we always end up forgetting their value.
Let’s make sure that we also remember our dear friends—who live and work away from us, and who we don’t see everyday but whose support and comfort are always just a message away. Maybe you can send them a picture of their crush (or oppa, or whatever crazy codenames you have) to brighten their day? Or buy them a little token in their favorite store? Or leave them a random heartfelt thank you in Facebook? Better yet, maybe you can respond a little more sympathetically to that very long and dramatic text they left you but you easily dismissed as another one of their usual theatrics.
And of course to those of us who have a special someone, remind them that they are special and will always be special. They are the ones closest to your hearts—and hey, they have it hard dealing with all your issues and imperfections! Bring them on a date, hold their hands, write them a poem, or sing them a song (even if it’s offbeat). Whatever it is, do something to thank them for their presence in your life.
And while we are doing all these good things for the people we love and cherish, let us not forget those who are in need. Remember those whose outcry for help consistently knocks on our hearts: the children with little access to education, the homeless and the hungry, the orphaned, and the abandoned. They are the thousand nameless faces and voices we see and hear but never pay attention to. And while they may be far from being a neighbor, they—more than anyone—need your goodness too.
There are a hundred ways to define the word neighbor, and countless ways to be good. May we always remember that a smile can bring warmth, a hug can strengthen relationships, and a little good deed goes a long way—longer than we can possibly imagine.
On this day, we hope you find your own unique way of being a good neighbor.
But more than that, we hope we never forget that we don’t need to wait for days like this or Christmas to show love, kindness, and appreciation. We can do it today, every day, any day. Our daily life is an everyday chance to be a good neighbor to those who make our existence extra fun and way meaningful.
Lorraine Rañoa, iVolunteer Philippines