We will certainly all be celebrating Christmas differently this year. I, for one, will miss many of our usual family traditions, like the lighting of the Christmas tree on the village green, the numerous carol services and, most importantly, the Christmas morning church service.
Sadly for us all, our connection with family members will also be curtailed over the season. But I am sure many of us will want to mark the occasion in a way that feels appropriate for the year we have all been through and with the hope that the future will be brighter.
No one would have thought at the start of 2020 that the year would have played out the way it did. We, as humans, have found ingenious ways to remain connected by all means necessary with a myriad of virtual connections, from entertainment to fitness, from food to socialising.
However, what has been very apparent is that we crave personal connection and relationships. We recognised this very early on in the year and as a business have been committed to remaining emotionally connected with our teams, clients and the community.
In keeping with this sentiment, this year we sent all our team members a Christmas gift: the book ‘The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse’ by Charlie Mackesy. This became a favourite of mine in February this year after Juliet, my wife, suggested I read it. It contains some pearls of wisdom that can’t help but change for the better the way the reader views the world.
It’s the story of a group of unlikely friends who share an unshakeable bond. Through their simple conversations they tell a story of human warmth peppered with universal truths and insight about life. Amidst a global climate of uncertainty, the book has struck a chord with hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide with its message of empathy and self-care.
It’s a simple, easy read but so full of insight. I’d like to share some of my favourite quotes from the book, and the reasons why they have resonated with me this year.
“Is your glass half empty or half full?” asked the mole. “I think I’m grateful to have a glass,” said the boy.
This sums up what has dawned on many of us in the light of a global pandemic which has affected so many people in so many ways. The everyday problems we complain about have been put into a new context, and it has been an opportunity to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and be thankful for the areas of our lives we are happy and content with.
“Doing nothing with friends is never doing nothing, is it?’
This year has helped many of us remember how much we value human contact, our friendships and all our relationships. Many of us have sought out old friends, made contact with people we maybe haven’t seen for a while and reaffirmed old connections that might have got lost along the way. As a team in Progeny, we have also pulled together in the face of this challenge, for each other but also for our clients, who value advice and support more highly than ever at times of crisis.
“Nothing beats kindness…it sits quietly beyond all things. We often wait for kindness…but being kind to yourself can start now.”
There have been some remarkable displays of compassion to others throughout the challenges of this year – small, large and everything in between. I have been amazed by all the acts of individual kindness combined with much social and charitable giving by so many within Progeny and in the community. We should all remember however that as well as being kind to others it’s also important to be kind to ourselves, as this can be the foundation for good mental health and wellbeing.
“One of our greatest freedoms is how we react to things.”
We can take great strength from the ways we have responded to this global threat – as a country, in our communities and as individuals. We often don’t realise how resilient and resourceful we can be until we are tested and it’s at times like this that we learn who we really are. As a business we chose to respond to the unprecedented events of this year by doing everything in our power to look after our team, our clients and our communities and to make a broader contribution to society wherever we could.
This last quote is possibly my favourite one in the book and is entirely appropriate for Christmas when we are permitted to allow ourselves a little indulgence – never more so than this year.
“Do you have a favourite saying?” asked the boy.
“Yes”, said the mole.
“What is it?”
“If at first you don’t succeed, have some cake.”
“I see, does it work?”
I encourage you to get a copy of this book and share it with a loved one. I hope it encourages you, perhaps, to live courageously with more kindness to yourself and others.
Finally, I’d like to wish you and your loved ones all the very best for the festive season and be sure to have a slice of cake as often as possible… I certainly will!