This year has been the year of get togethers, anniversaries and reunion invites. I miss more than I can attend but that doesn’t stop me from pondering the social considerations and politics of getting together with long lost friends and relatives.
How do you feel about getting together with friends and family after being apart for many years?
This year I had the opportunity to travel and attend a family function that would have meant meeting people I haven’t seen in many years. “But of course they want to see you? They know you. But they don’t know me and don’t stay in contact. I even read a comment shared by one of them that she goes to family events and doesn’t recognize any of the people. Why should I spend the money to go? They never stop by when they’re driving through.”
It was a wasted effort. It didn’t matter what I said. I was seen to be the negative one for not getting the vision.
I have mixed feelings about the prospect of reunions and get togethers. They have the potential to be a lot of fun but there are also pitfalls. The people I knew best most likely will not attend. Past experiences have proved this theory to be true.
Plus the people I chummed around with most often have either moved away or have fallen head first into their busy careers. I have the “I’d love to get together. I’m just so swamped right now.” e-mails to prove it. In the intervening years we have pretty much fallen out of touch, as the saying goes.
Of course you can get together after not meeting up for years and pick up where you left off. But sometimes the lack of any communication creates an awkward situation. You don’t really know how their career or personal life has been going. No, you’re not even privy to random and never terribly revealing – on a personal level – Facebook posts. You haven’t stayed abreast of the news about their growing children. The list of pitfalls goes on. One couple I know told me some years ago that they weren’t interested to take part in social media efforts. Why would they want to stay in touch with someone with whom they haven’t socialized in 15 years? In a few years (and not many at that) it will have been 15 years since I’ve last seen them. I’m guessing I should add myself to that “why bother?” list. It’s a shame because I really did enjoy their company and I think we could have maintained some exchange of friendship and information long distance.
At least we’re contacts on LinkedIn.
Friends are close for a reason, a season and a lifetime. Some friends keep a strong connection long distance, even after many years of absence. But not all good quality friendships are destined to go that route. And that doesn’t mean that anyone is at fault. Of course I’d love to have the opportunity to meet up but how should I act? How deep should our conversations go? Should we renew closer contact after the get together? Maybe they won’t want that and I don’t want to be the one making them feel obliged. What should I do when I meet people like this at a get together? What will happen if you’re comfortable with the awkward lack of connections but the other person harbours ill feelings? Will they avoid talking with you or keep the conversation painfully cool and impersonal?
And then there’s the truly uncomfortable issues. I’ll admit that I have a good memory. So it’s hard to forget those times when people said to me “Gosh we were following what happened. That person/group of people really didn’t treat you very well.” Great – you suspect you hadn’t warranted the treatment that you received and now you have the proof. Of course we should forgive and move on but do people change? You’ll be getting together with some people who weren’t terribly friendly with you in the past. Should you be chummy with them now as if nothing happened? After all, you’re all fellow family members, colleagues, dorm roommates or alumni. Meanwhile your support group – the people with whom you’d like to meet up – most likely will be a no show.
I should just go, talk to people who seem pleasant, hit the appetizers and leave. Or maybe I could squeeze in my spouse and children into the event and hide behind them. There’s nothing worse than staying away for all the wrong reasons. Or are they wrong?
Ugh. Sometimes it’s easier to just not… you know…. who will miss you? Your absence will be noted and the party will go on just fine.
How do you react to these opportunities? Do you just put on an optimistic face and stride forth? You can comment about this posting on the BCFamily.ca Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!