By Brenda J. Thomas Ph.D.

I know many of us have been invited to a reunion of some sort and have contemplated whether we should attend or not. We have asked, is it worth my time? Who is going to be there? Will anyone be there I am interested in seeing or talking to? What about the cost, is it affordable? Will it require that I change my appearance in some way? Lose weight? Gain weight? Grow or buy some new hair?

Some of you are thinking that there is no way you would willingly step foot within a thousand miles of a reunion with many of the people from your past. Well I had an opportunity to go to my high school class reunion this summer and I have to say I had no apprehension about going and it turned out to be a blast. Not because it was fancy or held in an exotic or luxurious place. No, it was wonderful because I was healthy enough to go and my classmates were happy that I came.

I have found that as I get older some things that I never thought important have now become very important to me. I get pleasure from many of the simple things in life. I actively look for opportunities where I can enjoy myself with the least amount of effort. I love not having to worry that I will be criticized for what I look like or viewed poorly if I happen to have a different point of view. I enjoy being in a place where I am accepted for who I am and I can just be me.

The thing that I enjoyed most about the reunion was it was a gathering of friends and family. These were people who I have known for the greater part of my life even though I hadn’t seen some of them since I left high school and went away to college and subsequently moved to another part of the country. This was what I would call a low stress event.

A few weeks prior to the reunion I received a call from one of the reunion planners who asked if I would give inspirational remarks at the banquet. I immediately said that I would do it but after I hung up the phone it occurred to me that I should have gotten more information about their expectations and asked more questions. Like how long did they want me to speak, was there a theme for the reunion, where on the agenda was I to speak, to name a few. So I called back to get more clarity and unfortunately I wasn’t given any more information than I had received on the first call.

Well, I decided that I wouldn’t make a formal speech because this was not that type of crowd. I felt that the best approach was to speak from my heart and share with the group what it meant to me to be a part of the class, what we meant to each other and how we could continue to support each other in a positive and caring way. My remarks were well received and I felt honored to have been asked to speak.

As I stood before the class I thought about how our lives had changed through the years and reflected on the many challenges that we have been confronted with and have overcome. I realize that even though miles and years separated us we still had a bond that connected us and my heart felt thanks goes out to the people who work to keep that connection in tact. So the next time you are invited to a reunion give some serious thought to going. It might not be the disaster you contemplate. It might just turn out to be a fun time.