More than 23 years ago, I started my first full-time job. I had graduated from graduate school in the middle of a recession and moved with my husband to a new city where he had a job. I wanted to work for a particular manufacturing company in the city, and set out to find a job there. It wasn’t easy to do in the midst of a big recession…so I was jobless for almost a year before getting my big break. I’ve been at the company ever since.
On that first day, there were three of us in the orientation/training program. Two of us are still at the company and we’ve been fast friends from day one. Along the way we met another woman in our organization who had been with the company for about a year, and soon met a new-hire a bit later.
Early on, I watched with envy as a group of women who were about 10 years our seniors, had already developed a tradition of getting together for regular lunches and holiday get-togethers. I envied their easy camaraderie and familiarity. It wasn’t obvious to me in those early days that I had already met up with my own long-time group of girlfriends.
None of us remember the first time we had a Christmas lunch, but it was either that first year or the next…so we’ve had this tradition for 23 or 24 years running. For the first 10 or 15 years, our tradition was to go to the local Hyatt for lunch at their Italian restaurant’s famed buffet. It seemed like heresy the first time one of us suggested going somewhere else. But it turned out that it was the company, not the location that made our get-togethers special.
Then one year, one of my friends couldn’t manage a Christmas lunch. She was in marketing and her position at the time tethered her to the phone with only 30 minutes for lunch. That was when we started meeting for dinner instead. Since then, we’ve branched out and tried different restaurants.
And so it was that last night we met for dinner. We don’t all see each other often. One woman lives a considerable distance away and her work schedule only brings her into town 3 days a week. I see her least, but when it comes to our get-togethers, it matters not. We are instantly bonded by our shared years together, not by the number of hours we have had the privilege to spend together.
We don’t always take a photo…we didn’t this year…but we have done so on occasion. One year I made copies of the picture and got four identical “friends” frames and gave one to each of them and the other is on my desk at work. I think that was our 8th or 9th…way back in the late 1990’s. I sport a curly perm and am wearing a Christmas vest. Next year for our alleged 25th year, we’ll have to go somewhere really special and be sure to get a nice photo.
I long ago realized that we are those women…women who have known each other forever and can pick up at any time with the narratives of our lives. We are those women with a 20 plus year tradition of gathering to wish each other Christmas cheer and good luck in the New Year.
Find the Joy in the Journey…and make your own traditions along the way!