I celebrated another anniversary of my 21st birthday a few weeks ago.
My wife did the very best she could, given these COVID times, to make it special. She rented us a gorgeous cabin in the middle of nowhere. Just her, me and a satellite dish for when we might run out of things to talk about. I remember thinking to myself “We would never have celebrated this way any other year.”
Usually, that particular date on the calendar would give us cause to gather family and friends to catch up on what everyone has been doing since Christmas. But this year didn’t allow for that gathering. My wife refused to allow circumstances beyond our control to steal a celebration from us. She was successful in that it will be a memory I will always cherish.
My wife and I grew up in very different lifestyles. She was raised a farm girl, so had chores before and after school. Her family was never rich, but they never worried about food because they could grow and raise their own food. I was raised a city boy in a poor neighbourhood. My mother had a large garden and we often bartered excess produce for meat or other household needs.
One thing my wife and I have in common is that our parents taught us how to survive tough times. They taught us that hardships are not forever and good times should never be squandered.
The past eleven months are by far, the toughest times I’ve experienced since the 1980s. My generation was able to overcome those difficult years because we had been raised to push through. We had mental toughness and we knew that what we were going through wasn’t going to last forever. We took any and all work we could find so we didn’t lose our homes and when we weren’t working, we stayed home. Not because we were quarantined or ordered into isolation, but because we dared not waste a single dollar on anything frivolous until we eventually came back to better economic times.
As I watch young families struggle now, I am ashamed. Why didn’t my generation pass along those important lessons? As I see mental illness increasing due to stress and lack of hope, I ask myself “Why didn’t my generation mentally prepare the next generation for tough times?”
I was taught many things in my youth to help me persevere through struggling, such as that it’s easier to save a dollar than earn a dollar, or that the best way to ensure you have good neighbours and friends is to be one. I learned that tough times don’t last forever, and that when a dollar is lost, you can always find another one if you’re willing to look hard enough.
As we slowly and painfully pull ourselves back up after the worst economic beating any generation has experienced in 37 years, let’s record the lessons we’ve learned from this experience. Let’s never forget the losses and let’s never squander the good times again. Let’s stop mourning all we’ve lost and begin planning for the eventual upswing – not just financially, but socially, spiritually and mentally.
The good times are coming, folks. History always repeats itself and history says the good times are coming.