A few years ago, I attended a reunion with six of my high school girlfriends (all raised in Schenectady) at a condo rental on the beach in New Jersey. Suzanne and Kate came from the D.C. area, I came from California, Cathy came from New Mexico, Amy from Cincinnati, Laurel from Florida, and Barbara from upstate New York. The idea for the gathering emerged when Suzanne emailed the other six of us on the day of her 50th birthday. A buzz of emails ensued and before we knew it, we had agreed to have a reunion at the Jersey Shore the following summer. I had seen Cathy only a few years before, but I had not seen Laurel in more than 30 years. Similarly, some of the other women had stayed in touch more closely and others had not.
On the Saturday night of our weekend together, we cooked and ate a fancy dinner in our condo. Ron and I have a tradition in that when we sit down to a special meal with friends and/or family, we join hands around the table before we eat and each person has an opportunity to say grace, give a blessing, or share a few words with those assembled. I insisted that my girlfriends join hands and share words. Many lovely, moving, humorous, insightful, and astute words were spoken at that gathering. We cried and laughed and, because we were a group of 50-year-old women, quite a few of us had hot flashes while saying those astute words.
My words at the table went something like this:
I am thinking this evening of the many places in the world where this gathering would not be possible, where seven women who grew up together would not be alive and in good health at the age of 50. We live in a place and time filled with blessings and good fortune. Our life partners and our children are alive and in good health; and our brothers, sons, and husbands have not been killed in battle, imprisoned, tortured, exiled, or harmed for their beliefs. None of us has been raped or tortured. Our daughters are in college or will one day have the opportunity to attend college. We have each succeeded in our chosen professions and have made a contribution with our daily work. We have the freedom to leave our families behind for a weekend and spend it in each other’s company. We have an abundance of food, we come from secure homes, and we have kept our children close to us, raised them with love, and seen them flourish. There are many places in the world where this is not possible, where women only dream of the lives we lead, and where a weekend gathering such as this would never occur. For this reason, I am deeply grateful for the miracle of this evening’s meal in your company.
In these difficult and uncertain times, I give thanks for the beautiful home I have, the health of my family, the abundance that I have received, and the love that flows to me from the many extraordinary people who have come into my life and shared the wealth of their personal gifts. May we live to give thanks for all these blessings on many other occasions. Good thanksgiving.