Now, consider moving, but make it during a pandemic.
Last summer, my family moved to Provo, to a new-to-us home and neighborhood, and we love being here. It seems strange to even be saying this because we’ve lived here for seven-and-a-half months, but: we look forward to meeting our neighbors. Rather, we look forward to getting to know them, to putting more faces with names.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “desperate times call for desperate measures,” and while some may describe the last year or so as being desperate, I’d call it extraordinary. Met with the challenges presented, most everyone I know has stepped up, including stepping out of their comfort zones, to meet the challenges of the unknown. As for me and my house, we’ve been the recipients of such efforts as these extraordinary times have yielded extraordinary measures of kindness and generosity.
Individuals, couples, and families (all masked and safely distanced) have knocked on our door to welcome us to the neighborhood. We’ve been the recipients of plates of cookies, loaves of bread, flowers. One woman stopped by with a basket of fresh vegetables harvested from her own garden that morning. A family on our block favored us by delivering not only delicious homemade soup, but also Welcome signs made by their children, which signs I see every morning on my refrigerator. Complete strangers have made an effort to cross the street to say hello and give an introduction.
Last Thanksgiving one of my life’s dearest friends passed away, and just three days later, a woman who I had long admired but (at that point) known only casually drove an hour to deliver flowers and homemade matzo ball soup, which, as she taught me, “has a long history of feeding those who are hurting, who feel defeated, who are reeling from pain and loss.” The meaning behind that -- the time, the effort, the love involved -- helped to heal my heart.
In January my husband and I felt utterly defeated when we tested positive for COVID-19. Yet, as more people learned of our situation we were again shown extraordinary measures of genuine kindness in the form of loving messages, and deliveries and drop-offs of helpful supplies. These words and acts provided sunshine and respite during a grim season for us. The effects of those actions have been memorable, lasting, and a source of inspiration for us to be better at looking for ways we can help others.
I’m confident that anyone reading this could come up with similar anecdotes from their own lives regarding their experiences and interactions during the pandemic. Perhaps taking some time to write them down would be a good idea, maybe especially taking note of what could easily be seen as, “small things,” which we all know typically lead to extraordinarily bigger impacts than could be imagined.
As life increasingly becomes more social, we’ll all have a chance to interact in ways we’ve longed for over the past year or so. This presents us with opportunities to be more inclusive, more welcoming, more interested and invested in each other. When my family and I moved last summer, we didn’t get a chance to say the goodbyes we wanted to, in the way we wanted to, and the same applies to being able to meet our neighbors when we arrived in our new home. Still, like everyone else facing the challenges of the last year, we’re doing our best, and we’re grateful for others who have been creative, kind, patient, and shown genuine concern for the new family on the corner -- what are their names again?
Jenny Dye loves writing, but not writing her own bios. She is a Zumba fitness instructor, actor, and podcaster. Jenny has been a blogger since 2005, which has led to many professional opportunities, including working with The United Nations Foundation, and as a National Advocate and speaker for Shot@Life, which works to get life-saving vaccines to children around the world. Jenny and her husband John just celebrated 4 years of marriage, and together they have 11 kids, ages 27 to 12.