choosing joy

The Recession: Finding Joy in Everyday Things

Today the Retreat Planning Team met to talk about our March retreat. We always do a check in, just to see what’s happened in the last month with each other. It was interesting today that much of the conversation drifted into talk of the recession. One person’s job will likely go away at the end of this school year. Another one of us is contractor at a major computer hardware company and she’s unsure of her company’s stability. Big companies, school districts, banking industry employees, even myself – each of us is very aware that the recession no longer has the boundaries people once thought and hoped it might. Even jobs that seem “safe” may not be so stable. What are we to do?

On the way home from the meeting, I was listening to NPR. The host was talking about how she was raising children in such amazing times. When the terrorist events September 11 took place, she was living in New York and worried about raising two toddlers in an uncertain age. She longed for stability. In the next couple of years, she worried about raising children in a time of war. She celebrated in November of last year and said that she felt great hope and excitement at the election of a new president, and with the breaking of an important barrier in politics. What a time for her children to be seven and nine, just old enough to remember this historical event. But her hope and excitement has fallen again, with the ongoing news of a recession. How will children remember these times?

When my guy and I went to the hardware and supply store yesterday, a long term employee mentioned she thought that many people this year would be planting vegetable gardens. In hard times, people often do as much at home as they can, and she expected that the store would be very busy all spring and summer. Growing fruits and veggies at home helps with the grocery bill and allows people to feel they are “doing” something. Truth be told, we were there to find seeds for tomato plants and flowers because we want to grow some on our patio.

On Friday I got an invitation to join a recipe swap group on Facebook. Women that I went to college with are banding together to share favorite recipes because times are tough, people are eating at home more, and two good friends are finding that they are getting bored of their staple recipes. They’ve opened their lives and their recipes up to each other, and there is a sense of camaraderie in the group.

Last weekend we had my sister and her husband over for dinner and spent a lovely evening together, later playing cards. I hope to have some other dear friends over in the next couple of weeks and cook a very yummy chicken BBQ in the crock pot. We haven’t had people over in months, but it seems like a nice way to get together, without everyone having to meet at a restaurant for a meal out. And, we get to play games after dinner together, which many of us haven’t done in years.

So what will children and other people remember this age by? It seems to me that already, people are coming together. We are doing what we can to get by. We are sharing with one another, communicating with each other. We are finding community in ways that our fore-fathers and fore-mothers once did. We’re valuing hard work, ingenuity, community and a hopeful spirit. We are finding great pleasure in the small, timeless, important, and valuable things that make life interesting. Instead of looking to exterior things to bring us joy, we are each looking within, digging deep, and finding joy at home, more now than ever before.