Q Dear Miss Abigail:
We recently purchased a home in a new subdivision. The only neighbor to come by so far to welcome us and introduced himself has been a young boy of seven. Since it’s been three weeks, I was thinking of taking the initiative and going to introduce myself. My husband thinks that the neighbors should welcome us.
A Dear New Neighbor:
According to my source, the ever-proper Emily Post, there are some things you can do to help bridge the gap between you and your new neighbors (see part one of this answer). But further reading concludes that your husband is right about what your neighbors’ responsibilities are (see part two).
1937: Introduction By Means of a House of Charm ~ And a Puppy
The best possible advice is to take a house, no matter how little ~ in fact, the smaller it is the easier it is to make it look attractive. And that it shall look attractive is a vitally important point, since the personality of the house you live in is a far more telling introduction of you to your neighbors than anything short of a personal introduction by friends.
A house of charm says plainly that charming people live in it. If you are an ardent gardener ~ or can become one ~ nothing could be better, since gardening is a bond of sympathy between neighbors everywhere as well as an absorbing occupation.
Another unfailing friend-maker is a puppy ~ but not if you let it bark or slip through the fence and dig your neighbor’s lawn, or chase her chickens, or frighten her chickens, or frighten her baby. One thing you will probably have to leave to fate (or to your judgment of the character of the houses that you settle among), and that is the hope of finding your neighbors congenial, and the equal hope that they will find the same quality in you. . . .
How a First Visit is Made
In very large cities, neighbors seldom call on each other. But if strangers move into a neighborhood in a small town or in the country, or at a watering-place, it is not only unfriendly but uncivil for their neighbors not to call on them. The older residents always call on the newer. And the person of greatest social prominence should make the first visit, or at least invite the younger or less prominent one to call on her; which the younger should promptly do.
Or two ladies of equal age or position may either one say, “I wish you would come to see me.” To which the other replies “I’d love to.” More usually the first one offers “I should like to come to see you, if I may.” And the other, of course, answers “Oh, I do hope you will.”
Everyone invited to a wedding should call upon the bride on her return from the honeymoon. And when a man marries a girl from a distant place, courtesy absolutely demands that his friends and neighbors call on her as soon as she arrives in her new home.
Source: Post, Emily. Etiquette: The Blue Book of Social Usage. New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company,1937.
~ pp. 105-6, 124-25 ~