Paper Clips: November 2021

Thanksgiving in Hurleyville
By Elaine Corrington
November 2021

The last two years have been difficult all around the world. We can probably all recall bad times we have experienced, but also knew there were others who had it worse, or a little better, or terrific. Even during world wars, there were countries that were watching what was happening and offering opinions; but they were not directly involved. It was part of the news, not the direct experience for all who read the news, or heard it on radio when the time came; or watched the news on television.

Back then, there were far fewer ways to know or confirm all that might be happening. And then came computers.
Eventually they were available to a large portion of the world population, and fully capable of adding to both the accurate and inaccurate information and multiple interpretations by people who lived in many different daily and life-long realities. There were illnesses that made their way slowly around the world with hits and misses. Changes in transportation made it possible for more and more people to go to unexplored or desirable lands and create new lives, both good and bad. Illnesses and decisions that did not turn out as planned expanded to the new geographical horizons where giving thanks was not always the response. Things could be bad.

I can remember the reality as a child of epidemics of polio, measles, mumps, and chicken pox. Some fathers of kids in my class worked on the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and their lives or ability to move and breathe independently were lost to these diseases. This was real, and worldwide epidemics began to be acknowledged as a reality we needed to take responsibility to end. How did this happen?

Shortly thereafter, vaccines were produced and all of the students at my school got on school busses and were driven to the Health Department so
that we all got the new vaccines, and the availability expanded as their effectiveness could be proven. Things could be good.

Then, after graduate school, I had a job teaching older kids who were deaf and blind as a result of no vaccination in childhood during a later epidemic. Things could have been better.

The reality of these last two years have taken us to a place where illness can be shared, but can also be prevented or minimized. Last year, Thanksgiving (as well as other usually happy special events) was not as wonderful. Many celebrated as usual with ok and not ok responses to virus exposure. People were angry and opinionated about the smartest and wisest personal medical and preventative decisions that could be made in these uncertain times, and often in disagreement with friends and authorities. 2020 was bad…would 2021 be better when Thanksgiving returned?

Sometimes, even when there is a lot wrong in the world, in your town, in your family and with your friends– even in your own body– you have the opportunity to realize that you have ended up in real luck. That luck for me has been right here in Hurleyville.

This little town has quietly displayed the joys and fun of small town life– neighbors, families, friends, workplaces, and inclusion– that might not be an option in many other areas: special treats, help with annoying or impossible tasks, advice, laughs, memories (both old and being created right this minute), and appreciation shared by all as life gets better in a bad couple of years.

It is so rewarding to work for The Center for Discovery to help support community inclusion and healthy lifestyles for the people in their therapeutic programs, as well as the staff and families who can celebrate lives that could not have been imagined or supported years ago. There are also the occasional snorts and swear words that have their own medicinal value- and you don’t even have to apologize!

Yes. There is Thanksgiving in my life and in my heart for all of the wonderful Hurleyville moments, and there is a desire to participate in helping others in experiencing the joys that seemed to be disappearing in this fog of an epidemic.