As we celebrate the holidays and the start of the New Year, like most, I look back over this past year and feel I just got off a roller coaster ride. For some, it has been exhilarating, for others, the ride couldn’t have ended soon enough. I’m not sure I’ve seen a year like this where there were such polarizing views, and not just in politics. Many landmark businesses went out while others flourished. Depending which side of the political aisle you stand, it was either a year of great accomplishment or one of unprecedented strife, discourse and divide. Friendships suffered while some were forged. Many became depressed and prayed for this year to end while others enjoyed the unexpected gift they received in taking a step back to savor the quality of family time that was lost during the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
The pandemic provided somewhat of an awakening to those living in big cities and commuting via mass transit. It also created a paradigm shift for employers who only thought working under management’s watchful eye in a corporate setting resulted in the greatest level of productivity. Both soon found out there wasn’t a drop off in productivity and in some cases it increased which has fostered a reevaluation in business strategies and the attainment of a better quality of life.
There is the old adage, “Man makes plans and God laughs,” and just when we thought we had it figured out that we work thirty or forty years, retire and move to Florida, many found out there is now a way to do both.
In writing these newsletters my wife frequently asks, “Why do you refer to your childhood so often,” and my answer is, “because that was a time when life seemed more innocent and enjoyment of those simple pleasures left an indelible mark on me.” We weren’t preoccupied with the pressures of everyday life and the constant need to chase something to satisfy our innate desire for peace and pleasure. Of course Gail was quick to remind me as a teenager my biggest concerns would have been passing my high school and college tests or which team I was going to get picked to play on with my friends. I have to admit she was right, but I still think that was a very special time in life for most of us that we are trying to recapture.
In our business we constantly hear from those looking to make the move to Florida, “I’ve had the big home, the fancy cars and membership to the country club, but I want to simplify things and enjoy then next chapter of my life. Isn’t it ironic how life goes full circle? We marvel at the inquisitiveness of a child, but in our later years we find enjoyment in many of the same things we did as children. However, while this year has been one full of challenges of one kind or another I recall something very profound a dear friend of mine shared with me about how adults and children perceive many of the same scenarios differently. His name is Bob DeStefano and he was at one time the longest tenured golf professional in the country and was recognized by the PGA for his contribution to junior golf and for the junior golf program he created at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club located on Shelter Island, New York. Bob said, “You know the difference between children and adults? Adults will come into the pro shop and talk about all the bad shots during their round, but children will always talk about the one good one they had.” I’ve often thought about Bob’s analogy and wondered how some children have coped with the events from this past year and what their thoughts were for the New Year. I thought who better than to reach out to a couple of families we know who have had to adjust to the changes brought on by the pandemic with young children.
Hailey, Lily, Avra and Olivia are four young ladies aged 5 through 8 who are wise beyond their years. Hailey and Lily just moved to Florida while Avra and Oliva moved from Florida out of state. Both families have had to adjust work schedules to accommodate on line learning or home schooling as part of their daily routine. For most kids my age, if you got a day off from school you were thrilled, but to think ten months of not having to go to school would have been a dream come true! The difference for these girls was the social interaction and school environment that was sorely missed. Eight year old Olivia summed it up best when she said, “I like being at school but we don’t get to go to the gym or cafeteria with all the other kids, we pretty much see just the kids in my class.”. Five year old Hailey said she didn’t like learning at home and loves going to school. In fact all four girls missed the interaction with their classmates and the biggest negative during this time was wearing masks and not going out to eat very often.
When asked if they like to give gifts or receive them, while they all loved the surprise of receiving them, giving gifts and making them whenever possible brought all of them great joy. Avra shared a story of making a gift for a boy in her class who had autism. Olivia shared a story of their neighborhood sponsoring a family and how she was in the process of helping get warm clothes for a 10 year old boy.
While this was a year of change for all of us I was amazed at not only how well these girls were coping but the appreciation they had for what was going on in the world around them; which is quite a testimony to the parents they have. All four girls hoped everyone would be healthy and safe for the new year but were very aware of others not having the same good fortune. I was also surprised by the balance they wanted both inside and out of the home. Equally amazing to me was their responses were all inclusive of others, and not focused on the things they missed during this time. I honestly felt, this is a life lesson we could all learn.
Of course no interview with young children could end without asking if they had an opportunity to meet Santa. I had remarked a couple of times to Gail how sad I felt seeing Santa sitting by himself at a mall without the excitement of children all around. Olivia replied by saying she and Avra did get to meet Santa but unlike past years where they were able to sit on his lap, this year they were sitting behind plexiglass, but she added, “We still did get to tell him what we wanted.” Hailey, whose personality is bigger than her, said she and Lily haven’t had an opportunity to meet Santa yet, but I’m sure when she gets finished with him, he’ll be ready for a long winter’s nap!
The lessons I learned from these girls was that they seemed to take their challenges more in stride but had a greater compassion for others who weren’t coping quite as well. While they enjoyed getting out and seeing their classmates they were apart from for so long, they savored their life at home, and the loving environment their parents created. It was their hope for the New Year that others could enjoy the same where everyone could be happy and healthy. And that is our wish for you.
May the holidays and New Year bring you much joy and happiness.
-Gary and Gail Cardillo