If you had lots of unexpected free time on your hands, what would you do? What would you learn?
This was the question imposed on millions of people in the last year as our society coped with a lot of unprecedented developments, including the pandemic. But not all downtime was bad or difficult. In fact, with so much time on their hands, hobbies blossomed through 2020 as people refreshed old skills and learned new ones.
Some of these hobbies were low-key and relaxing (board games, needle arts). Some were clever (dressing up to recreate favorite art painting). Some were practical (making jam, baking bread). Some were fun to do with children (baking, bird-watching, gardening). Some were solitary (painting, knitting).
In short, millions of people discovered there’s a lot more to life than being glued to electronic devices. Many children thrived with the renewed attention of their parents and the enthusiasm with which creativity flourished. Adults finally got around to mastering in that skill they’ve always wanted to learn, or stocked up on relaxing activities the whole family could enjoy (there was, literally, a national jigsaw puzzle shortage for many months).
With the holidays approaching, this plethora of new skills and hobbies affords some wonderful opportunities for gift-giving. Would your mother love a new sweater you hand-knit just for her? Would your wife value some additional tools to expand her vegetable garden next spring? Would your kids appreciate more family time with board games? Would your husband enjoy the opportunity to expand on his wood-cutting skills?
Enjoyable as many of these new hobbies were, possibly the most valuable are those which contributed to a more self-sufficient lifestyle. Kitchen skills and food preservation are the most obvious examples. Nationally, the domestic arts thrived during 2020 as people learned to make bread from scratch, create their own pizzas (some even planted “pizza gardens” with this in mind), discovered the joys of homemade pasta, and rediscovered the benefits of eating together as a family. With so many “victory gardens” planted, people learned how to preserve the abundance that came from their own efforts – and many plan to expand those gardens next spring.
Some people embraced the challenge of providing their entire winter’s heat from their own resources – cutting trees, splitting firewood, using their wood cookstove. The children learned valuable skills (including safety measures) about handling tools, and these families can take pride in their ability to stay warm through the coldest months.
That’s the thing about something as disruptive as a pandemic or as unsettling as lockdowns. Everyone can make lemonade out of their lemons, and emerge stronger and more knowledgeable from it. The greatest method of handling unexpected challenges is to emerge with a sense of purpose – a determination to set goals and master them. Here’s your chance.
What skills or hobbies have you cultivated in the last year? What new thing would you like to learn in the months ahead? Now is the time to decide.