This week I received a forwarded letter in the mail from Arlington County and iyt was my utility bill. This was strange first because I have paid my utility bills electronically for a decade and second because it was addressed to me but had my father’s address. Big letters on a yellow label said “Return to Sender Addressee Deceased.” That was a shock. Not only did Arlington County think I was a deadbeat for not paying my utility bill, but they thought I was dead as well. Of course, the upside to being dead, according to my 12 year was that now I could rob a bank. Aside from the twisted logic, I wondered why robbing a bank was the first thought that came to his mind. That’s a topic for a different blog (or counseling.) One of the first things that came to mind for me was my Christmas Tree Sales ministry at my church. Although I took over that ministry temporarily in 2006, my wife and I joke that it is a temporary assignment for life. With me now dead, I wondered if my stint buying trees from a Vermont farm and selling them on weekends in the Christmas season might be coming to an end. I do enjoy selling the trees but it does take away from family time in the holiday season as I am usually spend 9 hours a day on the weekends after Thanksgiving.
In 2020, Covid has given us all a different perspective on what is meaningful and important. One of my friends who helps with the sales noted that “it's funny how the little things are of bigger importance for our mental health these days. It's something to look forward to.” It’s definitely a true statement. Much of what we took for granted pre-Covid now seems much more important. While we can’t always control what happens to us, we do have a measure of control about how we react and our attitude in general. I’m personally going to try to have more appreciation for what I do have including trees to sell, people to interact with and generally being alive. It’s the perfect resolution with Thanksgiving coming next week especially a Thanksgiving that will be different than in years past. I hope you all have a happy holiday.
This week’s selection is:
Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman
International bestseller Rutger Bregman provides new perspective on the past 200,000 years of human history, setting out to prove that we are hardwired for kindness, geared toward cooperation rather than competition, and more inclined to trust rather than distrust one another. In fact this instinct has a firm evolutionary basis going back to the beginning of Homo sapiens. From the real-life Lord of the Flies to the solidarity in the aftermath of the Blitz, the hidden flaws in the Stanford prison experiment to the true story of twin brothers on opposite sides who helped Mandela end apartheid, Bregman shows us that believing in human generosity and collaboration isn't merely optimistic---it's realistic.