I'm Grateful To Live In A Place Where People Still Wave

We’re all family here.

Suburban Neighborhood fall

This time of year, that "Anne of Green Gables" quote about being grateful to live in a world where there are Octobers is making the rounds. Agreed. I love an October. Give me all the cider donuts, pumpkin-flavored everything, and an excuse to bust out my Spanx leggings. But, while I'm glad for the changing leaves, cooler temperatures, and anticipation of the festive season to come, I can't help but be grateful to also live in a place where people still wave to strangers, which is something we have more opportunity to do now that we're emerging from our air-conditioned oasis for the great outdoors.

It wasn't until recently that I came to fully appreciate this little calling card of our neck of the woods, but now that I have, it's at the front of my mind no matter whether I'm walking down the street, sitting in carpool, or riding shotgun on Sunday morning.

I was having lunch with a friend who wasn't from around here—I'll leave her home region out of the discussion—and she was at once lamenting and praising the social-forward behavior of her new home. Walking outside was no longer a solitary affair, but one in which she soon came to realize would mean small talk with neighbors walking to their car and polite waving and smiling from afar to the on-foot passerby. All this and she doesn't even live on a cul-de-sac.

It was then that I realized this habit of never letting someone pass by unacknowledged might be one of the most differentiating aspects of life down here. Now this isn't to say that Southerners are the only ones who wave, we all know that to be far from the truth, but there's something more behind it. If you've ever pulled out of the driveway and felt the compulsive need to roll down your window and talk-shout pleasantries to your neighbor who happened to be in the yard at the same time, then you know what I'm talking about. It goes beyond a simple wave because it's what your mama taught you, but instead is more about being truly invested in the well-being of those around you.

To some it might read nosier than anything else. We want to know how your grandma is, if John made the team, and whether Sarah Beth is going for early admission. Some of us are looking to reminisce on that touchdown pass, whether it happened last Friday night or decades ago, while others are sharing weeknight recipes and remedies for teething babies. For all of this, waving is just the gateway.

Oftentimes a wave and a smile says, yeah, I'm up for a chat. Even if that chat means stopping dead in the middle of the road, rolling down the window, and putting the car in park. Other times a wave and a smile to a stranger is just a way to share a friendly moment and perhaps make their day a little brighter—and likewise your own. Whatever the meaning behind it, Southerners never miss an opportunity to share a friendly wave and perhaps a little more. And that's something that's worth celebrating, no matter the season.

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