Moving to Chalfont, PA, in the early 1970’s (population 3,846 – 2000 census) introduced me to a simpler way of life and the true meaning of community. Husband, two children, dog and I moved from congested central NJ into a rural upscale development of about 25 homes. The town had a few other housing developments, a grammar school, a post office, a 12 lane duck-pin bowling alley, a Catholic Church, and a convenience store.
Upon our arrival, neighbors came to our home to introduce themselves. Before I realized what was happening, we were involved in an intimate social network of families. For four years I participated in a community of amazing people. We created our own Camelot, and I still treasure the time we spent together.
The neighborhood had some established traditions–a traveling cocktail party during the Christmas holidays and a block party in the summer. The women got together for coffee klatches, bridge games, recipe exchanges and shopping expeditions. We took care of each others’ kids and pets. The weekends consisted of some form of self-made entertainment or occasional excursions into the “outside world.”
What stands out in my mind were the impromptu volley ball games. On a Sunday afternoon, couples would show up with kids, snacks, and drinks at our self-made volley ball court. After the game someone might suggest a pot-luck dinner. The women would go home to explore their refrigerators. Within an hour or so we were gathered behind someone’s house for a barbecue.
Extraordinary people, interesting conversations, children playing, peaceful surroundings, and shared resources are part of my cherished memories of that time. As a stay-at-home mom, I was able to spend time with my kids and enjoy this special group of people. Life gave me a gift that continues to fill me with love and gratitude.
Acknowledging the special relationships in your life right now can take a back seat to the consumerism and busyness of a complex lifestyle, especially during the holidays. If you are not careful, excessive doing and having can lead to stress and agitation instead of enjoyment and connection with your loved ones and community.
To make the most of your special relationships today: 1) Enjoy the people in your life by honoring your limitations and keeping things simple. 2) Take the time to look into the eyes and hearts of your family and friends and tell them how much they mean to you.
While your community may change depending on the phases of your life—single, married, family, retired, assisted living—the value you place on your relationships can be a constant. When you make people a priority and focus on the positive, you will find yourself surrounded by people who support and nurture you. Be willing to reach out, open your heart and connect. You will always feel full!
What special people and memories do you still hold in your heart?