This past week a bunch of us got together, as we usually do at this time of year, to catch up on current events in our lives, and reminisce about the past. This year Erick hosted the event at his home, a medium sized two storey house in the mountains of BC. The snow covered ground, the white hats on the trees, the clear sky and the crisp, clean air made for a picture perfect evening for our party.
Most of us stayed at the near-by inn; a mini holiday to spend several days with our oldest friends.
We are a group of former graduate students who somehow manage to keep in touch through the years and even though we are scattered to the winds, all over Canada, the U.S and old stodgy Mel across the pond in the UK, some, if not all, of us arrange to get together during the Christmas break. Many of the group teach at university and enjoy long Christmas vacations.
The importance of maintaining this community is demonstrated by the fact that no matter where the annual meeting is held, we all manage to show up, or at least make our best effort to attend. On occasion, several groups will meet in different locations and then Skype so we can all speak to each other regardless of where we are.
As everyone arrived they would look around to see who was in attendance and who might be missing.
This year everyone attended as the weather, unlike last year, behaved itself and did not cause travel problems.
Even Mel arrived with his new wife who turned out to be a writer; she and I talked writing for the entire time with a good exchange of ideas back and forth.
Their flight was late getting in so the couple had to shop at Walmart. She told me she never, ever shops there at home but they had no choice in the town near Erick. Because they didn’t know who would be at the celebration this year they consulted their address book to get some holiday shopping ideas that would be appropriate for almost anyone.
The spouses always found it a bit difficult as the men all talked about their jobs and old memories of long gone professors.
As soon as someone barely got their feet in the door, Erick dragged them over to the Christmas tree. He beamed with pride. It was a beauty all right – no fake tree for this man!! An eight foot tree, green and well adorned with family mementos, some of which dated back to his grandfather’s day when he came to Canada from Holland bringing heirloom Christmas decorations with him to his new home. He even had a reindeer fashioned out of ribbons and bows on the tree.
The house smelled of apple cider, cinnamon and evergreen. The buffet table was laden with a turkey, ham, cheeses, vegetables, sweet potato, mashed potato, Jell-O surprise and salads; in other words more food than we could eat. Though by the end of the long week-end no leftovers survived. Desserts were pumpkin pies, blueberry (fresh frozen from the summer), apple and cherry. There might have been a coconut cream and a key lime pie thrown in just for variety.
After we settled into comfortable chairs, with beverage at hand, and snacks near by, the conversation continued as if we had all been together just the week before, not the year before.
Erick tapped on a glass in order to get our attention. Come together, right now
“I’ve asked you all here today …” The group laughed as this was a decades old line from one of their professors in grad school.
“Really folks, let’s get serious a minute. We’re all getting older (a few of the men rubbed their grey beards), some of us aren’t here and we have to figure out how we’ll keep this going in the future.”
John nodded his head. “Yeah, that was a horrible shock when we heard about Bob just not waking up from his nap.” John and Bob had been friends for 40 years. Hard to imagine; john missed Bob every day.
Joe’s voice was heard from the corner. “Most of us made it to the funeral. It was lucky his widow waited for the burial so we could all be there. It was great to see everyone but not in those circumstances.”
“Exactly,” Erick continued, “we have to face it; we’re no longer the kids we were. Age, sickness, and mobility issues are really starting to affect our lifestyle. How do we make sure we keep in touch?”
Owen reminded the group that, “Most of us will be retiring in the next few years and I for one may be relocating at that time. What do you propose Erick?”
“The main thing is to not lose contact. Whether we can continue to all meet in one place is a minor point. I guess we’re lucky to be living in the digital age. All I’m saying is we must be more diligent with e mail and phoning. Owen, you’re one of the worst offenders for not keeping in touch.”
Owen hung his head in acknowledgment. “But we’re so busy with the film school… “
“I don’t want to hear it! We’re all busy with our lives.” Erick wasn’t a big guy but he could be forceful when he needed to be. “We have to keep in touch. You know we do so don’t fall behind with e mails. Maybe we could Skype more often as well. We have the technology, so let’s use it.”
“He’s right.” From John.
“Yes we have to.” From Mel.
“We don’t want to see each other only at someone’s funeral.” From Joe.
“Nothing’s gonna change my world.” From Bill.
“Okay so we have a plan.” Erick walked over to the bar area. “As for me, I ‘m going to have another drink and as for all the rest of you, party on!”
Congregated around the Christmas tree we heaved a sigh of thanks for the beautiful evening, the good food and the wonderful friends. And we heaved a mental sigh of relief in response to a worry we weren’t even aware of; whether the group would continue.
And to everyone reading this—Happy Holiday Season.
All you need is love, all you need is love,
and Party on!
Blogophilia 43.4 Topic: “Shopping at WalMart”
(Hard, 2pts): quote a line from a Beatles song
* come together, all you need is love and Across the Universe
(Easy, 1pt): mention ‘address book and holiday shopping idea’