Thank God for Hometowns… Especially Small Towns…
Recently, through various interactions on Social Media, I came to truly appreciate the unique nature of small-town living and how lucky I was to grow up in just such a community.
The more time I spend away from Home, the fonder my heart grows of that one horse town.
Like most, when I left to go to college, I had no idea how well prepared I was for what the world had to offer. Unlike many our age, I knew what I valued and what was important to me.
While I didn’t know it then, I had learned much growing up in small-town USA. Many skills had been developed. Many lessons taught that prepared me for life.
It’s true what they say, “It takes a village to raise a child.” And, when I was growing up, there was no place that concept was more real than in Keyport, New Jersey.
It’s the place I return to.
The place I call “Home”.
A town where high school athletes are also scholars and club leaders. Business owners are little league coaches, and many of our fathers were firefighters or on the First Aid Squad.
In Small Town America, at least when I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of services provided. Everyone had to work together to get a job done. We were called into service at a young age. Hard work became second nature.
It’s a tight-knit community. While many of us were related in one way or another, we all grew up feeling like family.
People look out for each other.
People share in each other’s accomplishments.
People bring support to each other when times are tough.
Because of their commitment to each other, people in small town are friends that become family.
Commitment plays a huge role in these communities.
- Commitment to each other.
- Commitment to our jobs.
- Commitment to organizations.
- Commitment to the Community as a whole.
The type of commitment that comes gradually, from deep inside, as you grow up working side by side.
- Knowing nothing was going to be done for us.
- Knowing nothing was going to be handed to us.
- Knowing we had to work hard, that we had to work together if we were going to make anything happen.
We made commitments to our friends and to our relationships. To showing others we appreciated them being a part of our lives. We made commitments to the Community. To help to make it comfortable…To help to make it a great place to raise a family.
To keep it “Home” for everyone. No matter how far they might roam…
Comfort breeds familiarity. The waitress at the Diner knows your order as soon as she sees you, but waits patiently while you read the Menu as if it’s the first time you have seen it. You wave to 90% of the cars you pass on the road because you know at least one person in the car. Your parents leave the doors unlocked because they trust each other.
It’s comforting to see the same people all the time.
- To have a routine.
- To have a support system.
- To know that always have cheerleaders in your corner.
It’s comforting to have a place to return to.
A place to call home.
Coming from a small town, working together is part of your day. At School, The Fire Department, The Mother’s Club, The PTA; everywhere you turn people are work in teams.
Keyport Kids become quite comfortable putting their needs aside for the good of the group. Learning to step out of the limelight, becoming part of a team, working in the background. Doing this without sulking or complaints.
If only we had known back then that in the “Real World” not always needing to be the Star would make us a Star. That there are few who can do this. Few who know their turn to Shine will come.
That when it is our time to shine the cheers will be louder than ever heard.
Louder because we are part of a Team.
Louder because we are members of a Community.
That the celebration of our accomplishments, no matter where it happens, will be felt all the way Home.
The people you live next to, go to school with, work with, will always be there. Whether to congratulate you or lend you a hand.
It’s in the difficult times that one finds Small Town America to be the best medicine. Be it a home destroyed by fire. Or local residents killed in the attack on the World Trade Center. In times like these the community comes together to teach their young how we can help each other make the best of any situation.
We were raised to understand that sometimes a kind word and Mom’s Pork Roast, Carol’s Ziti, or Sandy’s Baked Ham could bring more comfort and healing to a distraught parent or devastated wife, than an army of therapists could deliver.
Being there for each other in times of need has long been the Tradition in small towns. No matter how out-of-date they may seem, small-town traditions mean the world to natives, especially the older generations.
- Traditions bring people together.
- Traditions provide unique times of celebration.
- Traditions create Commonality between social groups, religions, generations… sometimes even other Communities.
- Traditions give us a reason to stay committed to our Community. To our roots.
Be proud of your Small Town roots.
Be proud of your accomplishments.
Never forget those who helped grow your roots.
Find a way to Thank them for the role they played in your life…
It’s comforting to know that you’ll always have a place to return to.
A place to call Home.
Originally published at www.inspire.com.