The New Year will be here in a few days! May everyone have a splendid and safe holiday. I'll be ringing in 2024 by making a nice Italian meal for a few dear friends from college. I hope to stay awake to see the ball drop, but that gets less likely with each passing year.
Turning the calendar page to the next year is always a bit bittersweet for me. Although I look forward to what's to come, I inevitably have other feelings about what's transpired throughout the year, especially being sad about those that I've lost. I do this personally, but also related to our Village community.
As I look back on 2023, we held many fun events, including five musical concerts, two new Sunday Suppers, eight Tuesday Talks at the library, twenty-four book clubs, fifty yoga classes, twelve caregiver support groups, and monthly Lunch Bunches and cultural excursions to places like the Frederick Douglass house, Fords Theatre, and the Textile Museum, among many others. We've held special events, such as two vaccination clinics, a balance clinic, member socials, and a retirement living webinar. We've held an online auction, collected vinyl records, held a matching challenge for Giving Tuesday, and now we're making our Year-End Appeal. Organizationally, we launched our online Information & Resources Directory, created a wall of aging-related brochures in our office, and increased our membership by more than 10%.
We've also said goodbye to many members, who have moved out of the area or passed away. I was recently running in Rock Creek Park (yes, I've kept up this commitment!) and passed a cemetery where one of our recently departed members is interred. I felt that pang in my heart because the member taught me so much about aging, how frustrating it was when she couldn't do the physical things that used to be easy, and how perhaps we all see ourselves as being the same voice in our head as in childhood, even when in our nineties.
I am always sad to say goodbye, but also feel so honored to have known them, even briefly. Each person has touched me and changed me in some way. As I mentioned in a recent fundraising post to the Cleveland Park listserv, I feel so privileged to get to know so many neighbors through the Village that I know I'd likely not meet otherwise. My life is richer for those connections, however brief, because everyone has an interesting story and much to share. I know I'm not alone in thinking this. I've seen the connections that have formed among some members and between some members and volunteers.
I'm not one for resolutions, but if you are, I hope that you'll consider figuring out how you might be more involved. What might you do to deepen or expand connections? How can others experience more of you or learn from you? Of course, if there's an activity that you wish the Village would sponsor that would help, please let us know. Line dancing, anyone? Actually, I'm quite serious in this question because research has shown that there are health benefits to it. So, who's in, or what else would be of interest?
Thank you for all of the gifts and experiences of 2023 and may we all have a joyous, healthy, and engaging New Year.