Five Reasons Why You Should Attend Your 40th High School Reunion

“The good old days are now.”
Tom Clancy

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There are a variety of reasons why most of us don’t attend high school reunions. Most of them are just excuses that wilt away after the first few minutes of arriving. You soon realize that nobody else remembers names well either and that looking at name tags is only socially awkward for a moment and can be minimized by wearing dark sunglasses. You also realize that the relentless process of aging is a common challenge that nobody avoids. Yes, there are excuses for not attending but there are more compelling (yet sometimes subtle) reasons that make attending your reunions every now and then a must.

After just attending my 40th High School reunion, allow me to suggest five reasons why you should attend yours.

Reason One
These Are Your True Friends

These are the friends that you grew up with…that you probably knew in grade school…that came over for dinner and spent the night at your home. These are friends whose parents you admired, respected and sometimes feared but who you knew really did love you. These are the friends with whom you discovered and did many things for the first time…your first time driving…your first date…your first kiss. You played sports with them and took tests with them. Though you may have not seen them for decades, the memories of your youth are a huge part of what makes you who you are and so your bond with these friends extends beyond the years. It is the basis for true friendship and true kinship. A great reason to go to your reunion is that a few hours of fellowship with each other is all that is needed to remind you that you were lucky to have grown up together. That is worth the effort to be there.

Reason Two
We Are Mortal

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One of the most sobering parts of the reunion was a poster that was painstakingly made with great love and care that showed our classmates who are deceased. On the poster among other classmates, was a beautiful girl who was one of my first heart-throbs, the funniest guy in the class, a fellow football player, a great grade school friend, a guy I had just spoken to recently…it is impossible that these classmates are no longer alive and yet they are gone. This poster will never shrink and will only grow over time. A great reason to go to your reunion is to renew friendships with awesome people there is no promise you will ever see again.

Reason Three
Your Friends Need You and You Need Them

I had a different feeling at the conclusion of the reunion than at the beginning. In the natural process of catching up on everyone’s life you haven’t seen in many years, what should be obvious to all of us began to sink in. Life is tough and each of us goes through trials that challenge us to the very core. There was not enough time at our reunion to share all of our burdens but I became more sensitive to the deeper emotions of our classmates as the hours went by. Underneath the laughter and smiles there was in many cases, sadness and despair. Health challenges..the death of a loved one…a child in trouble. A long drawn out discussion was not needed. Sometimes a longer than normal hug communicated compassion and shared burdens. A kind word…an understanding look…even shared silence lifted spirits. Sitting on a football bleacher a moment of faith was shared with me… sitting on folding chairs moments of empathy between old friends closed the decades of being apart. A great reason to go to your reunion is to make it not about you but about your friends and to be there for them and to share in life’s burdens with them. I was lifted by the strong shoulders of my classmates.

Reason Four
Laughter Is Just Plain Good for Your Soul

You cannot go to a reunion and not spend most of your time laughing. It is impossible. There are just too many sports blunders and school bloopers to keep one from slapping his knees and wrenching his gut. Even though our memories may have faded, there are just too many people with partial recollections to stop the stories from coming. They may not be accurate but they sure are funny….at least to us. I am convinced that there is something therapeutic to remember and laugh. It is good for the soul and is another great reason for going to your reunion.

Reason Five
We Are at the Age When Our Ability to Change the World Is Near It’s Peak

I was so impressed by my classmates that came. We had people from all different vocations and backgrounds. The one thing we had in common was almost 60 years of wisdom. We are at an age and stage in life where some of our best work still lies ahead of us and we are in a position to achieve it. Whether through helping with grand kids or working with charities or as volunteers, we now know the ropes…we know how to get things done. While at the reunion, I heard of dreams and aspirations regarding making this world a better place that reminded me of what is most important. Your 40th reunion will be full of people who care and who have the talent and resources to make the world better. Attending my 40th class reunion reminded me that people are good and that there is great cause for hope in our future.

I am sure there are many more excuses to skip your next reunion than there are reasons to attend….but the reasons  to go are more compelling. May I recommend that you let your hair down (if you have any), relax and unwind. You will have a good time and be a blessing to your friends and they to you if you just go. The good ol days can be now also.

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7 thoughts on “Five Reasons Why You Should Attend Your 40th High School Reunion”

  1. Gary,

    This message was beautifully written!!! Thank you for hopefully lighting a fire underneath those folks out there who couldn’t find it in their hearts to attend our wonderful celebration. I pray that next time, we’ll have the opportunity to see EVERYONE!!! Our reunion was absolutely priceless…I’m so blessed to be a part of the great Class of ’75!!!!!

    Myra Cole Ecklind
    Phone: 321-438-3046

  2. Gary, I was a freshman when your class were seniors… and as I looked up to you (and your classmates) as an example of what it meant to be a Kowboy at the time…. now, through the magic of social media, you again provide an example of what I have to look forward to. Thanks for the post.

    Footnote/What to do between class reunions: As we grow older we should all strive to make sure that when we eventually face the collage of pictures that represent those who precede us in death that we don’t regret not telling them what they meant to us. Let’s make sure we give each other our flowers while both of us can still smell and appreciate them. Today is the time to start this practice and family, friends & classmates are a good place to start. Thanks again Gary!

  3. Well said and so inspiring, Gary. If my bestie, Kyle, hadn’t decided to come, I wouldn’t have attended. I’m so glad that we both made the choice to attend and that we didn’t miss out on a truly wonderful reunion. It was such a joy catching up with long lost friends and forging new friendships with classmates I scarcely knew back in the day. So full of gratitude for the experience!

  4. Like so many of the OHS Reunions that Starr and I have been invited to attend, this one sounds like (through the words of Gary Larson) the way the others felt. Regardless, of how many I attend, I always leave feeling a bit giddy. After reading Gary’s thoughts, I have that same feeling again. Congrats to the great Class of 1975 for pulling together one more time, for your 40th Reunion. Having seen the past 40 years go by at the speed of light, it should come as no surprise to you that your 50th Reunion will be here the day after tomorrow. I look forward to hearing about it, as well. Until then, I remain your OHS friend. Richard Blevins ’67

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