A Different Kind of Family Reunion

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

Less than a week away from Christmas, it’s the time of year when families are back in town and friends fly in from their other lives so ours can all intersect for a little while. This is one of the first years where I have friends coming back from whatever happens after undergrad, while others are married off in another state or working or caring for family etc. The list could go on.

But whether or not all the people who we wanted here can actually be present with us, it’s a pretty good time to remind loved ones of the value they have in your life.

I did that earlier this week when my old soccer team got back together. It would sound like that’s a simple thing, but this is no small feat. 

Let me explain.

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

I joined that soccer team in elementary school, a team where we traveled for tournaments and went up against teams we have never heard of before. As a kid, it felt like we were spies or something, traveling the world to complete our missions (games) that no one but us got to go on.

Sounds pretty imaginative right? Well, that’s a childhood me for you. I liked to make things into a story whether or not it belonged to the situation. This story though, it’s a bigger one than I could have guessed it would be back then.

Though we had teammates cycle in and out every year, there are a lot of us who stuck as the core original members. By the end of it, we became a group that spent almost half our lives together, all constantly working towards the same goals.

I wish I could say I didn’t take it for granted. But I did.

Because then we grew up.

When life started getting more complicated and schoolwork started to mean more than it did before, we split up in high school. Looking back, I spent 7 years with them, years that I spent formulating a whole lot of who I became before college.

Photo by Noah Silliman on Unsplash

It might sound odd—or maybe you know exactly what I mean—but losing touch with one another might have been one of the best things that happened to us. That space forced us to remember what we forgot to really appreciate in the first place.

So, we got together.

I can’t remember how it started, but almost every summer and winter since I was 17, we’ve seen each other. It’s funny, because we always go to the same place and hope we get the same table, ironically going through the same awkward moment that unfortunately kept happening, and we grew a whole lot closer. Because at this point, we didn’t just start knowing one another as teammates; we got the chance to know each other as friends too.

At this point, they’re a second family to me.

This week, all of us who could be in town met up on Wednesday and got dinner (yes same place, not the same table), catching up on everything that’s happened since summer. Trust me, there was a whole lot of tea to spill.

Yet, all of us were completely okay with spilling it to every person in our group. That’s something pretty special, don’t you think?

Photo by Simon Maage on Unsplash

I say all this not to share my past or reminisce or something like that. I’m saying this because there are people who could meet up and still those who weren’t there. Sitting with all of them made me realize that I really never thought we’d all be friends. Not like this.

But with a little effort and a whole lot of planning, we did.

A lot of you probably have people who are here for the holidays that you love; you also have people who are not here. Maybe they’re out of town, off at a job, caught at the wrong time, etc.

Call them.

Do any of you have coworkers or acquaintances or relationships you just don’t know how to pull a little closer in your social circle? I know I sure do, there is always something we’re not saying or not doing that we wish we were.

Do it.

In the 7 years I spent on that team, I always wished we could be friends who hung out outside of practice and without the competition stringing us together. That was something I didn’t believe would happen for us. I never realized that all I had to do was make a move to change it.

The holidays are a time for your people, the ones who you value in your life and want to grow old with. If you find that you might not have anyone like that, it could be that you just need to take that step you never saw coming in the first place. Reach out to a friend, a coworker, a boss. Volunteer at a shelter, get a dog (maybe not), go to a local Christmas tree lighting and talk to 3 other people minimum.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

What I’m saying is that the holidays are times to be surrounded by people you care about. And every one of us deserves to have someone like that. Lucky for me, I’m starting to realize that I do— I’ve got a whole team of them.

That’s a pretty happy holiday for me.

‘Tis the season, I hope you all have a wonderful holiday regardless of what it means to you or how you celebrate it. Do something nice for yourself while you’re at it.

See you next week.