I was back in Michigan earlier this month, watching the classic film A Christmas Carol with relatives in the Detroit suburbs. In the state with the worst unemployment in the country, this movie held a special relevance this year as bankers became the symbol of greed. And yet it was also a reminder of how much this past year of economic triage has also brought families together – and why there is so
much to be hopeful about this holiday. We pledged fewer gifts yet found the simple pleasure of meals together meant so much more – it was not taken for granted.
On the way home, my connecting flight on Southwest was cancelled in Baltimore because of a snowstorm. As I waited in line to talk to a representative, I was amazed how everyone was calm and seemed to reassure each other that a night in the airport would be fun. I eventually found out that I could get home that night by Amtrak and befriended another stranded businesswoman, a personal wealth manager for a major bank, waiting at the free shuttle bus stop. We shared family stories on the bus and later on the train ride to New York before drifting off to sleep. Her parents were from Sicily and she lost her husband 14 years ago and never dated – too busy first raising her kids and now taking care of her elderly mom. She was proudly visiting her daughter in New York, who works with a famous American chef. Clearly, she loved her work and to me she represented the proud tradition of banking that helped immigrant generations find their own American dreams.
Tough times? Yes, but I am finding a generosity of spirit in the American soul shining through that is making me believe in this country’s resilience. Happy Holidays!