Listening to the sound of a wind-up crib toy that played a lullabye took me back several decades — to days of looking in on my baby — purposefully greeting her with smiles and a firm desire that the life that lay ahead for her would be likewise: full of goodness, smiles and happy thoughts.

That is what we want for our kids.

As my 30-year-old daughter and I sorted through belongings that had been packed away for decades, there were some things that she let go of — and other things she kept. I confess: I watched her open worn children’s books and relished the dawning recognition on her face. I remember this, she would say.

But mixed in with her books and favourite stuffed animals, assorted Barbies and toys were a few of (ahem) my books, Barbies etc. As she held up her own items for consideration, there was no debate about my items. They were placed in bins for safe-keeping.

No need to say that these were vintage items. I have already thought of that. The hard-cover books held together with disintegrating tape, the cherubic children’s faces from two generations ago were a bit different from the books I read to my daughter. But somehow, a common thread existed. They were stories — to explain the world. They were stories — scary, sad, or funny sometimes.

We are living through a pretty big story, right now. And our daily actions are defining who we are. The generosity of some — helping others, listening to others, donating where they can — figuring out alternatives and work-arounds — these are the stories I want to write. These are the stories I want you to read.

I don’t think our complaints will get us through this. I think the political debates, the arguments about conspiracies and fake news, the complaints about store hours and customer service — I don’t think any of that is working well for us.
It certainly isn’t where my heart lives.

My heart beats to the kind words that seem to arrive at a low moment, the kind of words that let you know you are noticed and appreciated.
My heart sings when someone shares a good idea for something that will do good in a local community.

My heart laughs when someone recounts a story of something gone horribly wrong yet the tale ends with a funny twist — often at their own expense.

My faith is restored when a friend’s missing cat gets more engagement and more shares on our social media than the worst COVID-19 news story we posted this past week. BTW: The cat came back; don’t they always?

I feel safe again when good folks tell us about an act of kindness and add these words: “People should know about this. We are so fortunate.”
This is a very noisy time. And somehow, in the relative isolation that is happening at the same time as all the noise, it is reassuring to know that goodness persists.
During this time, it seems easier (confession) to avoid those meetings and activities that were not making my heart sing — but those that I continued out of a sense of duty. There is nothing wrong with duty, but as I reflect on it — why would I impose my less-than-enthusiastic presence on anyone? It isn’t right.

And so: cleaning house at this time makes sense to me. What do we want to keep as we look forward through the years? What has meaning? What gives us joy? What makes us smile?

Can this be fixed? Should I let this go? Will I leave this beautiful thing out where I can see it every day?

As I think of a few things I miss: the gathering of friends, singing in a choir, crowding shoulder-to-shoulder at the food festival, feeling the chill of the arena on my face at a hockey game, seeing the town filled with people during the Christmas Home Tour — I remind myself that these are worth holding close.

Soon, we will be able to unpack them all and enjoy them all over again.

We will look at each other and we will be thinking, “I remember this.”