Last Saturday evening, my friends Mary and Bob threw their annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner. They have been kind enough to feed us Mary’s incredibly tasty corned beef and cabbage dinner …
Last Saturday evening, my friends Mary and Bob threw their annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner. They have been kind enough to feed us Mary’s incredibly tasty corned beef and cabbage dinner for over twenty years now. Our group has shrunk a bit over the years, but we still number about 15.
As with any group of friends, we’ve gone through changes. Some have moved, and others have passed away. We have all watched our children grow up, move out, and begin careers and families, but miraculously we have stayed the same age.
We have celebrated happy events and comforted each other in times of need.
When we were oh-so-much younger, we used to get together each month for game night. We would play Trivial Pursuit, have Halloween costume parties, and just hang out with other grown-ups. Our older kids would babysit our younger kids and we would walk to each other’s houses for our nights of camaraderie.
It’s so important to keep in touch with friends, but modern life is not designed to make that any easier.
When I was growing up, my parents and grandparents would get together to play cards. That was considered an evening’s entertainment.
My grandmother Nellie was quite a social butterfly back in the day. She was a member of the Literary Club (like today’s book clubs, I presume). And I remember her telling me that one member each month had to present a program about an author for the edification of fellow members, thank you very much!
Of course, these were the days when husbands went out to work and wives stayed home. Many had informal Kaffeeklatsches every morning, while their husbands gathered at the water cooler at work. Their more formal group activities included Literary Club, Bridge Club, Ladies’ Aid Societies, church activities, service clubs, and more. The social whirl, even in little towns like Callicoon, could be quite daunting. And people would often go visiting friends and neighbors on weekends or evenings.
But these clubs served an important purpose—they kept us connected. Turns out that is a vitally important need we humans have.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) offers this advice: “…(C)onnecting with others is more important than you might think. Social connection can lower anxiety and depression, help us regulate our emotions, lead to higher self-esteem and empathy, and actually improve our immune systems. By neglecting our need to connect, we put our health at risk.”
But CMHA is advocating face-to-face interactions, not over screens as we have been forced to do during the pandemic days. Many of us who have retired miss the fellowship of our colleagues. We need to reach out to re-establish social connections. How to begin? Join a club, volunteer, simply ask for help!
And you know what? It may be time to start up those neighborhood game nights again.
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