I've been attending the Cornell Club of Southern Arizona's Holiday Party for more than a decade. No matter where we hold it, it's exactly the same.
The men are wearing Cornell ties and pins and polo shirts. The women sport shiny red things - on their feet, on their bodies, dangling from their ears. We always have name tags, even though, by this point, we should all recognize one another. After all, we've been doing the same thing for more years than most of the children playing tag around the edges of the adult conversation have been alive.
Some years there are more of us, some years there are fewer, but I can always count on seeing the fascinating members of the Classes of 1954 and 1963 and 1990. They each have a story to tell, and this is the place for reminiscences. "Of course I'd like to know what my alma mater felt like right after WWII" is not merely polite conversation. I was listening long before they stopped to wonder about me.
There's the woman with the fancy red and black raw silk jacket, pulled from the closet every year for this occasion. There's the woman who lives too far for us to visit as often as we'd like. There are the other two couples TBG and I try to meet for dinner once or twice a year; having three calendars in the same place at the same time makes planning a cinch.
There's The Gnat, now a middle schooler but once a little one I kept occupied with crayons while her mother ate her lunch in relative peace. This year I addressed her family's holiday brownies to her alone; I'm certain she'll share.
We move around from venue to venue; our homes are scattered to the four winds, so nothing is convenient for everyone. We've been at country clubs with terrific views and restaurants with terrific chefs. We've have pianos to accompanying our caroling. We've eaten salmon and chicken and salads. We've gone vegan and vegetarian. We've never skimped on dessert.
There's always a cash bar and I always refrain. Wine at noon puts paid to the rest of the day for me. Besides, there are stories to hear and tales to tell, none of which require lubrication. It's two hours of reveling in the past while wondering about the future. It's two hours of conversation with well-educated humans. It's two hours of catching up and discovering the new and then it's time for the finale. Give My Regards to Davy and the Alma Mater and Evening Song and then it's hugs all around and Good Bye, 'til next year.
For one afternoon, I'm 18 and 19 and 20 all over again. Year after year, it's the same party..... and it's wonderful.