THERE is no doubt that this year has tested us in many ways and that is probably one of the most obvious statements you will read today!
We have all experienced a massive shift in how we live our day to day lives and a huge part of what is still missing is our social life.
I was never a great woman for the zoom calls to be honest, I enjoyed them at the beginning when we were all grappling with this new normal and found comfort in them. But as the months wore on and our world felt small, then slightly bigger over the summer months, then back to small when the girls returned to school, I felt like I had run out of interesting things to say to friends.
It began to feel like conversations were constantly creeping back to the topic of coronavirus, and to be honest I am exhausted from living it, I just don’t want to have to talk about it.
That said, I would say I have solidified old friendships and found a new gratitude for newer friendships over the last few months, so maybe it’s not all bad. I reached out to friends from home or from college more often than normal and it brought huge comfort during strange times. I also have a new gratitude for a passing conversation in the street with a neighbour; where before I might hurry the conversation along, now I am there (at a social distance!) for all the chats.
Now, more than ever, it is important we mind our friendships, even the strongest of us are finding it difficult between isolation, working from home and being separated from family. There are some really simple, kind and thoughtful gestures we can make to reach out to friends when you feel they might need a little lift.
I went back to writing cards to friends, mainly because a friend sent me a card out of the blue and it was such a lovely, thoughtful surprise that made my day at a time when I needed it. I could not remember the last time I wrote a card before this pandemic but it’s actually a lovely thing to sit down and put pen to paper. I’m sure even the best writers among us would generally use technology to hone their craft these days between computers and tablets, so sometimes it feels like the simple art of hand writing is lost these days.
And it is certainly something the recipient will appreciate, so maybe, with the festive period almost upon us, if you can, try and make an effort this year to send some cards or to write a few extra words because you never know who might need to see them.
Maybe card or letter writing isn’t your thing, but there are lots of lovely companies all over the country facilitating our lack of words with thoughtful or maybe tasty treats that do the talking for us.
There are too many to mention, but one place you might start looking is a rapidly expanding Facebook group called Shop in Ireland. I discovered a beautiful small company called the Truffle Factory in Mayo who will send a box of their handmade truffles with a note to whoever you want. So, for €12, I had a box of 12 chocolates delivered to my parents who we are missing very much living the other end of the country from them, and the chocolates and note were gratefully received.
Closer to home, between friends and neighbours, there have been so many lovely examples of gestures of goodwill between people over the last few months; flowers, baked treats or a bottle of wine left on doorsteps, all acts of kindness that speak volumes.
Leading up to Christmas this year, I am planning a few homemade treats for my friends locally that I would normally probably just give a card to. This year, however, they have been a huge support system over the last few months as we have no family close by, so our friends have really stepped in. It doesn’t have to cost much, I’m going to make some salt scrubs using home grown lavender and Epsom salt — a good excuse for a friend to take some time out of a busy day and relax in the bath. I’m also going to make some infused vodkas, I have my eye on a pear, apple and cinnamon recipe that might be something a bit different to try over all the festive nights in! And my girls are going to make some cookie jars for their friends. These are so simple but so nice, you put all the (dry ingredients) for making cookies or brownies into a jar so the recipient just has to add maybe milk and eggs and they have baked treats whipped up in no time.
It doesn’t have to cost the earth, because really, showing people we care about them is about taking the time to do something for them and money doesn’t always have to buy that sort of gesture.