Its summer time, and for many people, that means family reunion time.
My wife’s family had a reunion in Missouri last weekend. Most of her uncles and aunts, cousins and their spouses, young adults, teenagers and little kids were there. A couple of cousins had passed over the last 12 months. They seemed too young, and everyone remembered them fondly, and with sadness. At the same time there were babies and pregnant women, too. The reunion seems like a concentrated exposure to the cycle of life.
I recently was reunited with someone I hadn’t seen in several years. Sometimes reunions like that can be hard: there can be hurt feelings about why the relationship cooled. Sometimes we can blame each other or ourselves for mistakes made in the past, or injuries inflicted or received. But this reunion was smooth. We just picked it up where we are now, both older, both interested in the future. There were some fun memories of the past, but the hurts of the past stayed back there. Now, I know therapists suggest that we get closure and process the feelings that have had a grip on us. Far be it from me to argue with them. At the same time, sometimes you can just grow up and decide not to re-live the tough stuff.
Twenty-five years ago I was in a wedding for good friends from college. Theirs was the first wedding I attended between people I had chosen to be friends (in other words, not extended family members). Six kids later, they are still married! They have chosen to celebrate their silver anniversary with a big reunion of people who have been important in their lives. People will be coming from all over Michigan, Virginia, Massachusetts, and parts unknown. We have rented a small resort on an inland lake, not too far from Lake Michigan.We have a big meal planned for one of the days and then have been kicking around ideas and options for other activities. I added a post to the facebook group for the reunion with a list of the ideas, just to have them all summarized in one spot. (By the way, how did we organize things like this before Facebook?) Amongst climbing sand dunes and swimming I added one tongue-in-cheek item: Tell everyone how young they look while secretly wondering if we look that old!
There are many reasons we go to reunions. The main reason is that people are important to us. We are designed to care about and be interested in other people. We are curious about how they make their way in the world, how they manage their families, how they make a living. Most retirement planning focuses on money. And don’t get me wrong, it is important to have enough money! But people are important, too. Please remember to think about the people you will have in your life in between reunions after you stop working.