North and South America. Asia, Africa, and Australia. Europe. The Middle East. The Caribbean.

No, I’m not studying for a geography test, or memorizing different areas of the world in case I ever become a contestant on “Jeopardy!” and that’s one of the categories. I’m just thinking of some of the people I spent a few hours with this week, and marveling at all the different places they’re from.

A number of them are people I’ve met as I “traveled the world” from home via Zoom. Others I was meeting for the first time, and I’ll look forward to seeing them again.

Most of the people at the meeting were members of Toastmasters International – and “International” was certainly the operative word. There were more than fifty people in attendance, including the organizer of the event – who lives in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada – and people from places as far away as Amman, Jordan; Dublin, Ireland; London, England; Kampala, Uganda; Nassau, The Bahamas; and Tokyo, Japan. Plus folks from all over the United States, from California to New York, from Minnesota to Florida, and from many other states in between.

The meeting was an event to celebrate winter in general, and December holidays in particular. Although Christmas is the first holiday I think of when you say “December,” there are many others – Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and the Winter Solstice, for example.

I was part of the “Meet and Greet” team for the meeting, and as people logged on, I asked them to name a December holiday they would be celebrating, as well as a favorite holiday food, tradition, or activity. Everyone had an answer, no matter what holiday they would be celebrating, or what rituals and practices it involved. That’s something we all had in common, no matter where in the world we were from.

Something else we had in common was the fact that for many of us, our celebrations will look different this year because of the coronavirus. That didn’t stop any of us, however, from telling each other what our holidays and celebrations mean to each of us. It didn’t take away from the stories or the wisdom we learned from each other. And it didn’t keep us from raising a glass in a toast to friends old and new – whether nearby or around the world. And to the hope of greater things to come for us all.

If you ask me, that’s definitely something worth celebrating.

December 4, 2020
©Betty Liedtke, 2020

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