‘Tis the season for all sorts of civic events, from tree lightings and illuminations to parades and customer appreciation parties, no matter where you are.
Here in Richmond in just one week, Tom and I went to Shockoe Illuminate, the unveiling of a new statue at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Richmond Mounted Police Squad blessing of the animals. On North and Middle Caicos, there have recently been tree lightings, the opening of new clinics, and the first round of holiday parties.
My suggestion: Go often and happily. It’s good for you, and good for your community.
When we first moved to Richmond, I soon got a gig as a restaurant reviewer. Wanting to remain anonymous and unrecognized, we joined no groups and made no connections. Work went well, but it was a hermetic existence. It was only after moving back, into a city neighborhood, that we began participating in civic life. I think we’re better for it. Going to grand openings, rallies, open houses and holiday events keeps us informed and connected to the people around us.
This type of connection is even more important in a place like North or Middle. It’s your signal that your love for the island is more than “I love the beach” or “I love the sanctuary we built.” It says, “Hi, we’re neighbors, not just passing through. We care about this place.”
In return, you will learn more about your adopted home, even if it’s home only a few months a year. You’ll meet people, connect the cousin dots and begin to figure out the politics, the long-time feuds and who best to contact when you need help. Because eventually, you will need help.
You won’t love everyone, nor will everyone love you. It’s a small place, but it’s not a Hallmark movie. And you’ll find enough to be irritated about. Events seldom start on time, you might find the music too loud, and you’ll notice cliques. I find the “protocol having been established” section of the remarks to be tedious, but in an odd way I also expect and look forward to them.
Still, go. Go even when no one is serving drinks, when it seems that no one greets you, when all the food is scarfed up before you reach the table. If this is truly your place, it’s okay. And trust me, you’ll reach a new place, your place, in island living.
(Accompanying photo of preparations for the Kew tree lighting courtesy of Patti DesLauriers.)