By Susan Accetura
Some folks count to 10, some take a few deep breaths. When life starts getting to me, I start counting my blessings: our health, our family, our friends, our home, this town; children laughing, a warm fire, fresh eggs from the chickens, good coffee. Don’t sweat the small stuff—celebrate the small stuff. Treasure the small stuff. And our town, our little town, is overflowing with priceless trinkets—McLean Game Refuge, Cossitt Library, Salmon Brook Park, scenic roads, maple syrup, tasty chevre, fife and drum, Holcomb Farm, Beman’s Hardware, Keating’s Pharmacy just to name a few.
Would it be burying our heads in the sand if we chose to focus on the here and now for a few weeks? Would it be frivolous to forget about Washington and maybe consider our immediate family and neighbors for a spell? Long hours spent anguishing over things we cannot control are hours taken away from some of the people and moments that matter the most.
The political rhetoric has made life feel like one big battleground, pitting friends, neighbors and loved ones against each other. How can we expect to celebrate the season of giving when we’re wound up so tightly we’re about to crack? There’s no need to abandon our convictions, but perhaps some exhaling is in order. Everyone needs a mental health day once in a while, or maybe two, or what do you say we take the month of December?
Many years ago, when our boys went to Valley PreSchool, we met a walking, talking Granby treasure: Peggy Shaw. “Music with Mrs. Shaw” was always a favorite VPS activity (and it still is!). Peggy would bring her guitar and other fun high-tech props (like felt cut-outs for Aiken Drum), the children would gather around, and singing, dancing and laughter would ensue. She taught us a song called Magic Penny written by Malvina Reynolds. It goes like this:
“Love is something if you give it away, give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away, you end up having more.
It’s just like a magic penny, hold on tight and you won’t have any.
Lend it, spend it and you’ll have so many, they’ll roll all over the floor.”
Pennies, minutes, little acts of kindness—really little things that mean a whole lot when they are shared. As Anne Frank said, “No one has ever become poor from giving.” And to continue with meaningful quotes, how about the one from Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Really, truly.
In my day job, I feed people. Well, in my mom-job I guess I feed people, too. Who knew that trading in a cushy corporate job for a massive pay cut and an apron could be so rewarding? I have the opportunity to create things that bring people a little joy every day. Laurie Colwin wrote “A person cooking is a person giving. Even the simplest food is a gift.” In this season of giving, see what happens when you give someone food. Whether it’s cookies for the neighbors, homemade soup for an elderly friend, or gingerbread for the teacher, just give. It’s a selfish act, really - you’ll be the one reaping the rewards.
There are a few organizations in town that always appreciate your support. The Waste Not Want Not Community Kitchen provides a free meal to anyone in need (of food or fellowship) every Wednesday evening at the South Congregational Church. The amazing Sandy Flagg coordinates the kitchen, and is generally there to accept donations on Mondays and Wednesdays. Items marked WNWN can be brought to the church any day. In addition to providing a meal, she often sends folks home with more food for the week, including muffins, quick breads, soups, etc. Packets of hot chocolate are welcome during the winter, too.
The Granby Food Bank, run by the VNA, also appreciates donations. Items for the food bank must be non-perishable (and non-expired). It is located next door to the South Church, and accepts donations on Tuesdays from 9 to 2 and on Thursdays from 2 to 3:30 or call to arrange drop-offs: 860-653-5514. Most-needed items are posted on the sign in front of its office, but coffee, juice, canned meats, pasta, peanut butter, cereal, salad dressings, personal care items and paper products are always needed. Grocery store gift cards and monetary donations are graciously accepted. Why not start your holiday shopping with a trip to the grocery store with the kids, to pick out items for the food bank?
Let’s look local for a bit. A little more quality time with the family, a little more kindness to those in our community. All those little things add up. Just like magic pennies.