2020. The year of the pandemic, a toxic election, and dreams that pivoted from in-person anything to virtual everything. Businesses that failed, closed, pivoted, thrived, or were created out of need. A new appreciation for everyone on the front lines of health care, town maintenance, and delivery systems that have amazed us all as they met the challenge and demand to keep everyone at home.
There is a saying that ‘It takes a village’ when raising a child, solving a big problem, and apparently when you need to feel safe from a virus that few know much about. So, who became your village this year when you needed to craft a bubble of safety?
It really does take a Village
As we’ve all become fatigued from the isolation, the virus continues to return and now we are facing a pivotal holiday in the U.S. that forces us to celebrate in smaller groups, cancel travel to see loved ones, and replace the human hug and time sitting together with a zoom platform. And yet there is so much to still be grateful for. So, who is in that gratitude village?
The BBC ran stories early in the pandemic, sharing stories of how people were rallying around those who had to self-isolate but were alone. This inspired so many people to look outside themselves to help those suffering alone, apart from family, or simply needing a hand.
Do you have a gratitude Village?
While we are all grateful to those we stay connected with to make our jobs continue to work, the gratitude this season should be for those who have kept you safe, or helped you get better if you did get sick. Or – more importantly – those who stayed by someone’s side as they said good-bye to someone close that was taken from us by COVID-19.
Gratitude is significant. It heals, and it gives us grace. And more importantly, it connects us. Neuroscience provides us with proof that gratitude shifts the brain to be more open, expansive, and soothed. It balances out the negative thoughts more powerfully than facts.
Even when your Village is small
Many of us will be gathering in smaller numbers over the holidays and you may even have a family member that may need to stay isolated to stay healthy and safe. Now is the time to get comfortable using any virtual platform possible to see each other, laugh together, and share stories. Even if by screen, having someone in your family share your family history with the younger generations will do more for them in the long run than any other factor you’d expect.
Creating your history Village
I’ve chosen to re-read a book this quarter – Barking up the Wrong Tree. The book reveals the surprising science behind why everything you know about success is mostly wrong (pg. 75). Emory University found that the one best predictors of a child’s emotional well-being was not their school or how affectionate their family was. It was knowing their family history. Now is the time to not only be grateful you are still here to celebrate, but to share what makes your family unique to your kids – your history.
I remember the moment I was told that my mother’s family tree stemmed (pun intended) from one of the brothers of Benjamin Franklin. Bradley Franklin turned out to be a family name passed down to my uncle, Isaac Bradley Franklin, a civil engineer who served in the navy towards the end of WWII. His uncle was a paster during WWI. My own uncle was a pilot over Normandy, my father was a medic in the Korean war, and my husband’s father died serving in Vietnam. I have an aunt who made a career out of nursing and inspired her daughter and daughter in law into nursing careers as well. Both sets of grandparents were farmers whose offspring produced bankers, engineers, architects, beauticians, social workers, lawyers, and military members who served in every branch for this county. Getting to hear about all the diversity, the grace, the choices, the hardships that were overcome gave me a sense of deep resilience that felt born to me. This was the village of my past.
My immediate Village
But this was not the village of 2020. My village became a few good friends and neighbors, my husband, my kids, and our grandson. That was it. We created a trackable village so that we could protect one another as best we could – and protect those we hadn’t met yet who might be at high risk. This was not a political statement; this was simple science and love.
A new technology Village
For family and friends who are still far away or who still need more protection with more trackable isolation, we’ve had to become intentional. We’ve stepped up and figured out ways to help everyone use zoom, video, phone, email, text, and an app that many have laid by the wayside – Marco Polo – an exceptional app for those who had limited Wi-Fi and mobile phone connection. We got creative and intentional. We are still getting creative and intentional.
Whoever you have welcomed into your village, intentionally built a village around, or got stuck with as a village of location or need – take time to be grateful of what you have gained in any way.
This too shall pass. For many they will miss what this year provided in silver linings- more downtime, more time with family they love, DIY projects they never thought they’d get to; for others, they will gladly say farewell to the sadness, chaos, and close quarters.
We will move on – but do not forget what you can still do. Recognize your villages, share your history, tap into your gratitude, and plan for brighter days.