Dear High School Friends and Acquaintances,
For a few weeks now, I’ve been struggling with whether to attend our high school reunion.
It’s coming up soon and it’s a big one; our 25th, in fact.
I haven’t been to a single one of our reunions. I know. I’m sorry.
It’s not because high school was traumatizing, although it was. Of course, I don’t blame any of you for that. High school is by nature traumatizing for most of us. We all have stories about the adversities we work to overcome during our early- to mid-teen years.
Missing our reunions is not because I don’t want to see you or hear those stories. It is not because I don’t want to hug you, to find out more about how your lives are today than I am able to glean from Facebook.
No, unfortunately, the reason is this:
I live on the opposite side of the country and our reunions are at times I cannot do.
Our 10th reunion was around the same time as a family wedding. I was unable to attend both. I chose to attend the wedding rather than the reunion.
We did not have a 15th reunion. There were a variety of reasons I could not get to the 20th reunion. One of the factors was it being on Thanksgiving weekend. I swore I would attend the 25th, though.
Our 25th High School Reunion is being held at Thanksgiving weekend as well.
Traveling at Thanksgiving sucks. I have not flown back east for Thanksgiving in almost ten years. My Thanksgiving traditions are here now.
I want to come see you. Until the age of 27, I lived in and around our home town. There are some of you who I have known since kindergarten; even pre-school for a few of you. A few of us even attended the same college together and kept in touch then.
Some of you are folks I’ve had drinks with when I have been in town, even in recent years. It would be a delight to hang out with you, as it always is. And, of course, there are those of you I still communicate with via social media but haven’t seen in well over a decade. Most of you are explorers like me, and no longer live on the East Coast. You are the people I would look forward to seeing the most.
You fellow travelers, though, have decided not to attend. When I started having doubts I reached out to you to ask. None of you are going.
I was still considering it, though. Despite the cost, which is around double what I usually spend for flights back east. Despite knowing some of the folks I most wanted to see would not be there. Despite missing Thanksgiving weekend traditions that are meaningful to me. I was still considering it.
I started thinking about those traditions more. My family back east doesn’t do a real Thanksgiving anymore. The family of one of my best friends is who I have been celebrating with for years. They have adopted me, so to speak. They are my family here.
On Thanksgiving Day every year, my dear friend and I get together in the early afternoon to cook. We put on music. We open a bottle of bubbly. We spend hours in her kitchen preparing for the feast.
Sometimes it’s held at her house, sometimes her parents or her sister hosts. Everybody makes the most amazing food. We gather to share our contributions and open more wine.
It’s the relaxed, cozy, loving, warm Thanksgiving celebration I miss from my childhood. It means everything to me to have that in my life again and be able to enjoy it every year.
That’s not the only tradition, though.
Thanksgiving weekend also kicks off the holiday season. It’s when I pick out my Christmas tree and bring it home and decorate it. I do so love bringing home my tree and stringing the lights and ornaments on it. I complete my decoration of the tree, and I watch “White Christmas.” I always make a seasonally-appropriate cocktail, too. Every year. [Reader: See bottom of this post for two of my favorite recipes.]
To attend the high school reunion would mean missing these traditions that mean so much to me.
As I said, though… I was still considering it.
But I hadn’t yet bought the tickets for my flights. I kept putting it off.
Until finally, now, it’s mid-September. Usually, I would have booked my flights for a trip a month ago. I realized something was holding me back.
It took sitting with my thoughts and feelings for a few days, and it was difficult.
The conclusion is this:
Missing Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend traditions would be harder than missing the reunion.
My decision not to attend our 25th reunion is made with deep regret. I would so look forward to seeing you if the reunion were at any other time. I know you will have a wonderful time. I wish it were easier to share the evening of camaraderie with you.
I hope when we have our 30th High School Reunion it won’t be on Thanksgiving weekend. I hope it will be at a time more convenient for those of us who no longer live in the area. I suspect the majority of us don’t travel to New England for a family Thanksgiving anymore.
If it continues to be on Thanksgiving weekend, though, I will continue missing it. It breaks my heart to say so, but I suspect it will be true.
With the deepest regret,
Bonus: Seasonal Cocktail Recipes
(This section is best viewed in a browser. The WordPress reader isn’t rendering it well.)
For many years, my annual Thanksgiving Weekend viewing of White Christmas has been made with a Ginger Snap Martini in hand. The recipe is courtesy of http://themartinidiva.com/. I can no longer find the Ginger Snap Martini on her site, but I long ago saved the image for it since it is one I make frequently throughout the holiday season.
(Side note: The Martini Diva has TONS of gorgeous, seasonally appropriate ginger cocktail recipes. I highly recommend searching her site for “ginger snap.” You’ll quickly see what I mean.)
Ginger Snap Martini
- 1.5 oz Vodka
- 1 oz Ginger Liqueur
- 1 tbsp Dark Molasses
- 1 pinch cinnamon
- 1 pinch ginger
- 1 pinch clove
- 1 gingersnap cookie
Chill martini glass in freezer
Put molasses, vodka, and spices into a cocktail shaker and muddle well
Add one cup of ice cubes and ginger liqueur. Shake until well chilled
Strain into martini glass
Put gingersnap cookie on rim and serve
- This recipe works well with rum, too. Just decrease or omit the molasses.
- A couple dashes of pumpkin pie spice works in place of the cinnamon, ginger and clove.
- Okay let’s be honest. Most of the time I skip all the instructions and just throw everything into the shaker together with ice. It turns out fine. And I’ve never actually bothered with the cookie.
On a similar note, we have this martini, which my friends and I call a White Christmas Martini. We indulge in a “Hallmark Christmas Movie Binge Day” once a year, typically the Friday before Christmas. This White Chocolate Peppermint Martini recipe has become our drink of choice for this annual tradition. It looks like it would be heavy, but it’s remarkably easy to manage intake when using it for playing the Hallmark Christmas Drinking Game. Which, of course, we do.
White Chocolate Peppermint Martini
- marshmallow sundae topping
- 2 peppermint candies, crushed
- .25 cup vanilla vodka
- 1 tbsp peppermint schnapps
- .25 cup white chocolate liqueur
Dip rim of martini glass in marshmallow topping then crushed peppermint candies
Drizzle some marshmallow topping on inside of glass. Place glass in freezer.
In a shaker with ice, add vodka, schnaps, and liqueur. Shake until mixed.
Remove glass from freezer, strain martini into glass. Sprinkle with crushed peppermint to serve.