Hospitality Showcased in Stevenson

As those who know me realize, I am morally against cold weather. My strong belief is that the only days the temperature should dip below 70 are Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Despite these convictions, I have made my home in Abilene since 2008, a place that apparently has no qualms about shipping in frigid Canadian air from October through March. As a Community Coordinator, I am often at odds with the weather. For example, the cold often drives people inside, where it is much less easy and natural to meet others. With the changing of seasons, I steadily lose daylight hours in the evening, which complicates trying to connect with folks after work. There's really only about an hour window from when neighbors return home from work around five until dusk. It's within this hour that the following story unfolds...

The Stevenson Neighborhood has a tradition of hosting a community Christmas party each year. This year, it will include games, crafts, and will be connected to the Highland Christmas store, in which neighbors can earn presents through community service. I was asked to help pass out flyers to invite and inform folks in Stevenson about the opportunity, and was thrilled to be able to help. Until I looked at the forecast.

Low of 33 and sunset at 5:40. For a warmth-loving person like me, this was not good news.

Nevertheless, a little after five we began walking the neighborhood, bundled up to prevent loss of heat. To be honest, I looked a little iffy. My black hoodie was turned up over my freezing ears and my winter beard was protecting my face from frostbite while looking a bit scruffy.

Yet as I walked from house to house, I was invited in by multiple neighbors. Some were interested in what I had to say, others less so, but I was very thankful that so many people looked past my appearances in order to get me out of the cold.

As dusk settled, a man invited me to sit on his couch in front of a gas heater just like my grandmother used to have in her trailer. Though I was shivering while inviting him to the Christmas party, I was warmed inside by his hospitality and willingness to invite me inside his home.

All this is to say that as I get to know neighbors in Stevenson, and in all of the ANI neighborhoods, I see that they have so much to offer and to teach the rest of us. On that cold November evening, I was a stranger and they invited me in.