I recently celebrated a birthday. It was quite an emotional one for me as I realized that my “carefreeless-ness” is slowly but surely slipping away. I need to enter “full on” adult world which comes with its challenges, one of the biggest not having my family close by.
My sister has lived in France for 13 years and my mom hops around between Cape Town, France and a few other places. I think this is a big contributing factor to my longing for a sense of community as I get older.
The harder I look for it the more I struggle to find it. It seems to have completely disappeared from our modern lives. During my 6 years living in New York City many of my friends were also far from their families and we became each other’s family. We took turns to host annual events from Easter to Christmas to Super Bowl Sunday (basically any possible celebration). It left such a warm feeling in my heart that I battle over holidays as I miss them dearly. I have been back in South Africa for almost 3 years and I battle to find that same sense of community. The only place I have been able to find any sense of community was at church. The thing I realized though is that community doesn’t come to its full right without some level of effort and involvement. The reward is incredible though.
In my search for community I have started to question why it escapes us. I have a few theories. Firstly it could be that many people have their families around and don’t have the sense of urgency to get involved in it because they are not forced to. Secondly people’s lives have become extremely busy and having people or the neighbours over spontaneously will cause a nervous breakdown for most. In our busy lives we cancel or postpone too easily because we can’t deal with another “task”. We shouldn’t see it as a task though. My other theory is that the people of South Africa are currently under immense pressure and just to keep our heads above water feels daunting most days. The struggle is very real at the moment for all South Africans. The irony of this is that we actually need community more than ever in the current state of our country.
Where am I going with this?
One of the key motivations behind my business Table + Cloth was (and still is) that entertaining shouldn’t feel like effort. In my opinion having people over to your house is an essential part of building a community. The modern society needs to build communities again. Old friends, new friends or family are vitally important in our lives, marriages and raising children.
Entertaining doesn’t have to be associated with indulgence and spending money. Setting the table beautifully goes much deeper than pretty table decor. It is a thoughtful decoration for people you love – using the old and maybe something new. Also as we get older, we recognize the importance of having friends who are authentic and genuine – people who love, respect and support us. Most of us are happier with a handful of best friends who we can truly rely on compared to 25 friends who don’t really mean as much to us. Hence keep it small and intimate with real people.
This is my first attempt at addressing the big C word – more to come. I hope I have inspired you to have people around more often and to start contributing towards community. Our country needs that desperately.