Author’s Note: I’ve made a list of 100+ events, places and experiences that happily unite people. I’m taking a tour to see and experience as many of them as possible, and also meet up with Society members and friends. Of course, I’ll be sharing these #HappinessUnites moments with you. Find out more of the why’s of the #HappinessUnites Tour in my blog: 3 Reasons I’m Hittin’ the Road. Or find out where my #HappinessUnites Tour has taken me so far — and what I’ve had time to write about. If you want to meet up with me, check out my #HappinessUnites Tour schedule.
This #HappinessUnites Tour blog begins with a confession: I’ve never attended one of my high school reunions. In high school, I was much more of a wallflower than cheerleader. Even though there were less than 70 students in my class, I always felt like if I went to a reunion, I’d still need to wear a sign that said, “Yes, I did go to school here.” Thanks to Facebook that’s changed a bit.
Before anyone jumps to any conclusions about my high school experiences – I was just one of those kids more eager to be an adult than a teenager. At this stage of my life, I think of my high school years with fond nostalgia, even though they wouldn’t be on my list to repeat. However, that is in no way because of my classmates or school.
When I did a Facebook post asking, “What did people like the most about going to their high school class reunions?” The response is obvious: Reconnecting with classmates.
When I think of high school my mom immediately comes to mind. She loved everything Bangs High School including class reunions. My mom openly admitted that she didn’t love school for the academics, but for the social opportunities. She was voted class favorite her sophomore year, not surprising since she was a social butterfly. She was also a majorette. I loved playing dress-up in her green velvet costume, even though my twirling skills were less than graceful.
Her sister, my Aunt Barbara, has also stayed in touch with her class, and goes to many of the homecomings and high school reunions. Her class often rents a lake house to make their reunion a weekend event. When she told me that Bangs High School was celebrating 125 years, I decided this was the class reunion to visit for my #HappinessUnites Tour.
If my mom were still alive she’d have been on the event planning committee. When I was a child going to the Bangs homecoming was tradition – until I was old enough that my mom wanted me to participate in my school homecomings. Bangs homecoming weekends for me were mostly about time with my Nanny and Papa, but I do remember going to a couple of bonfires. Even when there wasn’t an official reunion, my mom still got to see most of her classmates most years.
Luckily, my trusty sidekick Tater joined me on this stop of the #HappinessUnites Tour. We met up with my Aunt Barbara for a lunch at the school, where she introduced me to several of her classmates. I’d hoped to see some of my mom’s classmates, but none of them were there. My aunt was 12 years younger than my mom, so they didn’t go to school with the same people – in hindsight, I should have gone to the football game on Friday night to seek out some of my Mom’s comrades.
I met Katie, a teacher who looked like a student, and one of her students who told me about her aspirations after leaving school, and how much she loves animals.
Although most people were chatting and laughing with people they knew, many were also making new friends through conversations about shared school history and tradition.
My aunt and I left to go to the lake cabin, which brimmed with her classmates. It was full of food, people, including some who’d traveled from out of state to attend the reunion– and lots of laughing. My aunt already told me that the set-up crew, which included her, had arrived the night before, but didn’t get much sleep. They stayed up most of the night catching up. Of course, Tater made his rounds to visit with everyone – which meant he let them pet him. When I left I was certain that night two was destined to be another sleepless night, since more classmates had arrived to reminisce over the past and share their present.
As I left the reunion, I felt a little sad that I don’t have similar connections with my classmates. However, I was ultimately happy for the millions of people for whom high school reunions are an amazing experience filled with hope, optimism and idealism. They are place where the participants can see the connection between who they were and who they’ve become. They are places where happiness unites people because of friendships and memories that have been made stronger because they have outlasted the test of time.