Mennonite Heritage Village

People or Toilet Paper?

Last week I went to Costco in Winnipeg and sure enough, the Toilet Paper panic had come to Manitoba. I had seen it on the news happening in B.C., Australia, but Manitoba?!? I texted a friend about it while I was in the store; five minutes later I get a response asking for toilet paper. Really! I actually didn’t want to do it and be one of ‘those people’. Fortunately, they were already out of stock by the time I got there. I bought towel paper instead.

There are a lot of people in our community who remember a time when toilet paper was not a household name. Talking with them I found out that there was more than one reason those paper Eaton’s catalogues were so popular throughout the first half of the 20th century.

More than stocking up on toilet paper, we should be taking stock of our social security net. Do you have friends and family close-by that you can rely on if you become ill, who can provide you with supplies should you run out? This is especially needed for seniors and those with children. The focus should not be on what we can buy but on our relationships. How can we care for each other and encourage one another?

Living in developing countries for 18 years I enjoyed learning the importance of phone calls when our city was closed more than once because of riots and government shutdowns. We used that time to have longer phone calls with friends and family. The familiar voices on the other end became a little more precious, the conversations a little more caring.

We also established household norms and routines with our kids, like baking together and taking the time to read books together. Isolation at home can be an opportunity to do some special activities that we don’t get around to otherwise. Time at home is not a threat, but an opportunity. One safety expert told me if the days feel long to stretch the activities you do have. You don’t have to rush through your dishwashing. Limit news exposure to the best news sites and not all the extra comments around it. It is wonderful that we have much more info and clear guidelines being released to the public than we did 100 years ago during the Great Influenza of 1918-1919, which was especially harsh on Mennonite families.

So please take time to call up some friends or family you haven’t talked to in a while. Yes, in many ways this is uncharted territory for us. It is good to reach out. Now is the time to take our social solidarity to another level. Something

that the Mennonite Heritage Village has been working on for 50 plus years. What would you rather have – People or Toilet Paper?