Some reunions make you happy. Contact with people who have influenced your life validates and energizes you.
In terms of retirement happiness, some reunions are worthwhile — others, not so much. The big ‘home-coming’ reunions at universities I’ve attended never attract me. It’s not worth the time or expense to attend these events to re-kindle relationships that were never important.
The type of reunion that I try not to miss is one where I know that I’ll be replenished by the people who attend.
Our careers and our lives took us on divergent paths since the work connections of several decades past. Among the group many made life changes including new jobs, new homes, new locales, and new partners. We’ve shared stories of joy when adult children have married and made us grand parents. We’ve also shared grief when beloved siblings and/or parents died.
Most of us see each other only at this reunion. This is the time when we share information on key life events during the past year — special birthdays, retirements, travel and achievements. We are shameless in bragging about accomplishments of children and grand children including weddings, baptisms, and baby pictures. This year we heard stories of falling in love again. We saw the joy in the eyes of friends who found soul mates later in life.
At the gathering, conversation comes as easy as breathing. The openness and generosity of long friendship provides compassion, understanding and respect. We relax and share our deepest secrets and fears. When requested, practical and timely advice is given.
To maximize the time we spend together, we meet early on a Saturday. Coolers full of food and wine arrive along with guests hungry for a years worth of news.
We drink wine. We indulge our appetites with snacks and appetizers. Eating together is a simple and ordinary act that strengthens the already strong bonds among us. The pleasure of sharing our food extends to a fun-filled potluck dinner.
Since retiring I’ve attended a MSW class reunion of 40 people at McGill http://Why you Shouldn’t Miss a Reunion. I’ve also attended a reunion of former colleagues http://Why Attend Reunions. I enjoyed each of these events knowing that they won’t likely be repeated.
These formal, institutional reunions differed from the annual reunion I’ve just described. They provided opportunities to go back in time and to recall pleasant associations of more youthful days.
Interestingly, our small group of former colleagues used the common ground of shared experience to build something bigger by meeting annually. From each other, we’ve learned lessons of compassion and respect. We’ve laughed and cried together.
Bonds have been strengthened by the pleasurable act of sharing food in an informal setting. As we’ve fed our bodies, we’ve also nourished our souls.
By re-connecting every year we’ve established emotional attachments that make our reunion rewarding. Such reunions give abundant retirement happiness.