My intentions over the holidays were to spend just shy of two weeks with my daughter and her family at her home in Williamsburg, a neighborhood in Brooklyn, N.Y.
It had been a year since visiting, and a lot can change with a toddler in a year’s time.
In addition, I badly needed a break – some relaxation and de-stressing time. I have indeed had a lovely visit – took in the Rockettes, honed my “Hide and Seek” and “Would you chase me?” skills, and learned that “Let It Go” really can get stuck in your head and drive you slightly bonkers.
On Dec. 31, the heat went out in my daughter’s apartment building for more than 24 hours. We shivered through the night and then tried to thaw the next day in a nearby playroom, a restaurant and a theatre.
At the same time, the hot water went out, as did all the water in her restrooms, though we had a working kitchen faucet. As I write this on Jan. 4, cold water has returned in all locations, but not hot.
All of this was occurring while having a below zero wind-chill factor.
I was supposed to fly home on Jan. 3, postponed to Jan. 4, and then postponed until Jan. 7.
Inconvenient? Sure. Washing up with water heated in a tea kettle can be awkward, as can pitcher-filling toilet tanks for flushing.
Rescheduling my South Carolina life, extra boarding costs for the dog and flight and transportation arrangements are a hassle.
But a temporary inconvenience for me is the stuff of which many of our Lowcountry neighbors make a perpetual life.
I’ve had the equivalent of an urban camping adventure, while others have perilous experiences when shelter is not available and lack of heat is deadly.
I was able to pitcher-flush, while others cannot flush at all without sewage back-ups in their homes.
I have the untimeliness of travel delays, while many have not seen their extended family for years because travel costs are impossible.
I have the technology needed to be able to work from afar (I’m writing this from my daughter’s spare room), while others must show up or not get paid. I have a functioning coat, hat, scarf and gloves.
I saw a woman today in the cold and snow with flip-flops on her feet.
Every time you “suffer” an inconvenience, count your blessings and share more of what you have with those for whom such inconveniences are a way of life.
Research the needs of area residents at The Giving Marketplace on the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry’s website and support those in the nonprofit sector who are serving them.
Consider learning more about Project SAFE, a partnership between the Town of Hilton Head Island, the Hilton Head Public Service District and the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry, so you can learn what real inconvenience is like.
And find ways to live generously in the process.
It is amazing how small many of your difficulties will seem.
Denise K. Spencer is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. www.cf-lowcountry.org