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Every Cloud Must Have a Silver Lining

Effective communication in the recession is building relationships. 

 

My aunt Ruth is an 87 year-old Roman Catholic nun who entered the convent at the age of 17. She now lives in a retirement community for nuns, helping "the older girls," and keeping up her routine, which includes the morning paper and the evening news. We took her and my 89 year-old mother on a shopping trip to the King of Prussia Mall recently.


Effective communication in the recession is building relationships: My aunt Ruth is an 87 year-old Roman Catholic nun who entered the convent at the age of 17. She now lives in a retirement community for nuns, helping "the older girls," and keeping up her routine, which includes the morning paper and the evening news. We took her and my 89 year-old mother on a shopping trip to the King of Prussia Mall recently. This led us to a conversation about the current tough economic times.

 

Despite my aunt's routine, she hadn't known (!) that the nation and the world are hard in the grip of "the worst economic recession since The Great Depression." (Both of them were aghast that a shirt they saw cost ... gasp ... $30.) Ahh, to be blissfully unaware of all that is happening around us. For my part, I can't get seem to get away from the bad news, even though I've long since stopped opening my 401(k) statements. But this dark cloud has a silver lining: effective communication is building relationships. I see relationships opening up and strengthening all around me.

 

Neighbors have started to share tips for saving money. More dinner parties have turned pot luck. There's talk of starting a vegetable-purchasing co-op. We hear couples pledging to "get through this together" and friends promising to lend a helping hand if it's needed. People are taking their dogs for long walks around the community instead of, I can guess, something pricier. Frugal is in fashion and conspicuous consumption is as socially incorrect as wearing fur or a white hood.

 

I was born after WWII but I imagine this is how the culture must have felt in the days of Victory Gardens, black-painted windows and saving chewing gum wrappers. The sense of shared adversity seems to be drawing many of us closer together rather than driving us apart. Sure, all of us, except the crazy rich and the plain crazy, are tightening our belts. But we're noticing some wonderful consequences of doing so.  I don't know what's ahead. But for now, I'm taking that Perry Como offered in his classic Melancholy Baby: cuddle up and don't be blue.

 

Happy holidays.

 

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