If you can measure friendships by how easily people take up where they left off after a long, long period, Gibson Greetings friendships are pretty impressive. Today, 10 compadres from the staff of the late Gibson Greetings got together to catch up.
There have been various get-togethers over the years, usually dinners at local eateries, but I seemed never to be able to attend. Consequently, there were some folks in today’s reunion I hadn’t seen for at least a decade. I almost didn’t make it today, in fact—I wasn’t sure if Mom would need me either for herself or the dog, and I wasn’t positive how I’d be feeling myself. When I e-mailed our hostess, Amy, earlier this week saying I probably wouldn’t be there, she shot back, “Ah, Nancy, we’ll miss you. You should come…it will give you something to write about :). And it won’t be the same without you. Feel free to change your mind last minute and surprise us…”
Mom wasn’t pleased that I wasn’t going. “You might be sorry later you didn’t go.”
I’m certainly very happy I did go. It was great to see everyone, and it was amazing how comfortable we all were with one another. None of the awkwardness that can come with separation. At first we chatted in ever-altering clusters, sipping coffee and tasting the spread of goodies. Eventually Amy herded us into her great room where we sat for a long time sharing memories, passing around photos, and enjoying each other’s company.
To me, time’s onward march wasn’t reflected so much in appearances. No one looked that different, really. However, the subjects of our “catching up” conversations demonstrated how much life had changed since we all wrote, edited, and marketed greeting cards. I personally worked on staff at Gibson Greetings for nine years, and I recall so many courtings, weddings, and baby showers. Talk was of kids in school and the concerns involved in raising a family.
Today we discussed aging parents, including illnesses and issues surrounding nursing homes; shared photos of grandkids whose parents had been faces in framed school pictures on employees’ desks back in the day; shook our heads over the job market and the difficulties some of the college-graduate sons and daughters were having finding work. We talked about current conditions at various places of employment and wondered if that “family” feeling was as strong in other environments now as it had been for us back in the golden years.
A lot of us are on Facebook, so we do see snippets of news, photos, and even have some one-to-one contact. But it’s not the same as being in the same room, laughing together, and recognizing that the bonds that sometimes seem translucent are still as strong as ever.
As for those who couldn’t make it today, we noted your absence—and we missed you!
NUDGE: Holiday time brings many reunions of all types. Write about one your get-togethers, whether it’s with family, friends, or former co-workers. What are the most dramatic markers of time’s passage? Does it come down to gray hair, expanding waistlines, and joints that creak more than they used to? Or is it more a matter of personal growth and maturation, the impact of life experiences, and the shaping of values? How have things not changed between the members of the gathering?