Whatever happened to the sense of community remembered as a kid and young adult? Perhaps, it disappeared when backyard decks began to replace front porches. As a child, front porches were a gathering place for friends, family and neighbors to sit and read the evening paper, converse with those passing by or to share dreams and plans about the future. The night air buzzed with activity as neighbor kids rode bikes up and down sidewalks and streets. Kick-the-can and hide-and-seek were played long after dark or until the last echo of "It's time to come home now" was bellowed from a distant front porch. The muffled conversations of grown-ups occasionally drifted overhead, lingering momentarily before overtaken by the sounds of child's play. Life seemed to move at a slower pace on the front porch and neighbors were your friends rather than strangers.
Driving in rush hour traffic today, I found myself missing the comforts of my front porch. I became acutely aware of the sound of our squeaky porch swing swaying in the cool evening breeze. Of neighbor kids calling out the count down for hide-and-seek and the rustling of my dad's evening paper as he turned the pages. For a brief moment, I felt a twinge of sadness in knowing that my best childhood memories were buried somewhere beneath my old front porch. Unfortunately, my time of mourning was suddenly stopped short as an irritated driver gestured his resentment for my apparent slowing speed.

Life is full of changes, but I can't say that the retirement of the front porch has benefited the community or the family. We no longer know our neighbors, nor do we desire to know them. With the invention of answering machines, caller I.D., E-mail, computers, television and backyard decks we no longer feel the need to communicate intimately with member of our community or own family. With all our advancements, I sometimes have to wonder what we are progressing toward. Life is about people and our ability to relate to them on a daily basis. Call me an 'ole fuddy-duddy' but, somewhere buried beneath the front porches of America is a gold mine of intimacy waiting to be rediscovered.

For what it's worth, I still like to hear the sound of my neighbors' car horn as they drive past my house when I'm working outside. I still welcome a friend, family member or neighbor stopping by unexpectedly. And, I will forever cherish the memories of those times when neighbors were a part of my evening ritual. In fact, many of my closet friends today have evolved from front porch gatherings.

I invite you to never lose the front porch fellowship that is so vital to the stability of every family. Front porches may be a thing of the past, but the need to nurture and maintain close family relationships is not. I believe it to be the most valuable inheritance that we can offer to our children. Sit down for a family meal at the dinner table (with the TV off), do a craft or home project together, initiate an evening devotion, play board games...find a way to personify the true meaning of front porch relationships to the next generation. In doing so, your children will reap the harvest of establishing family and community relationships in a world that has little or no regard for intimacy.

In the year 2001, commit yourself to renew a front porch relationship with your family!

© 1997 Denise Marks
All Right Reserved

          



 

 

 

 






ABOUT THE AUTHOR...

Denise Marks is the publisher/editor for a monthly family newsletter called the Grapevine. The publication is now in its fourth year and has been a vital tool in maintaining family intimacy. Each month a different family member acts as guest editor and writes an article for the newsletter. Throughout the month, other contributions are received via email. "At first, the newsletter was sent to immediate family members (well over 30). It has now grown to include aunts, uncles, cousins...it was like a small seed that spread and blossomed into a beautiful garden", says Denise.




"What God has joined together (the family),
let no man
(TV, e-mail, computer, telephone...) put asunder."




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