Community corner: It’s that time of year again

By Kristina Powers Aubry

It’s that time again to “go over the river and through the woods to . . . whoever’s house is hosting the meal . . . we go.” Making up for last year’s mini- and non-celebrations,this year many are looking forward to returning to holiday traditions.

In my family, my brother and I head downtown Detroit to stand on the curb and watch the old J. L. Hudson — now the America’s Parade — just like we did when we were growing up. Bro and I still march to the bands, remember the old and evaluate the new floats, and wave and yell at Santa to be certain he sees us on the curb. The universal attitude of fun and friendliness everyone exhibits that morning on the streets of Detroit is amazing and reminds me that we are all one community on earth.

My husband, David’s, family gathers in the church hall down the street from his grandparents’ old home as they have for 50 years. Eighty to a hundred of his immediate family members gather to celebrate family and to sign the book to be in the count.

As the years go on and family members move, die or can’t travel, everyone’s traditional celebrations have to modify.

That can be quite a challenge, especially when things have been the same for years. Our first changes came when siblings started their own families and established their own traditions. Now that David’s and my parents are gone and the homesteads have been sold, we have lost the old central meeting place and some of the comfort we felt in “going home” for the holiday.

Changes from the things we could count on and look forward to can be not just unsettling but bring about a change in our outlook on the holidays, and life in general. Not doing things the way “we always do” can bring about disappointment and depression. Change, in general, can make one look at upcoming events and ask, “why bother?”

If the last year has taught us anything it is that there is more than one way to make things happen. Once we have time to take a good look at a problem, we have a chance to see there are ways to let things continue even in the face of an ugly bug that had serious effects on daily life. And this can be a way to handle changes in the holiday traditions, too.

One of the things I love most about fall is the beauty all around; color, sky,clouds, flowers, fields, smells. There seem to be people everywhere; all the raking and plant pulling and decorating. The clear, clean air seems to amplify the sounds of talking, laughter, playing and machinery. It also gives us a chance to see who is around us. How many people on your block have you never really noticed before? Seniors, children, single adults, widows and widowers, folks who are disabled in some way living just down the street. How often do you see the Metro van stop to pick up or drop off someone, or see a neighbor load a wheelchair or walker into a car?

The pandemic fallout has given us the opportunity to make changes in our relationship to the community we live in. Taking the first step to meeting someone new, a wave, a smile, a “hi” from across the street can be a start to knowing more. Think about calling a friend or neighbor before you head out to the store to see if they need a loaf of bread, some milk or prescriptions picked up. Send a card to someone you just met or volunteered with or who lives a little farther down the street. Watch for things that might mean someone could use a little help. South County Community Services is a wonderful resource for all sorts of assistance, from simple items to more complex help working through life’s critical needs. A call, a note, a smile (even from behind a mask) can make each day a holiday of sorts by celebrating being part of your community.

Visit the South County Community Services website at or by using this QR code:

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