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Some people view a class reunion as a rite of passage, while others may see it as a painful reminder of time marching on. Whatever your personal take on the event, you can usually count on receiving an invitation every five years or so. Preparing yourself involves a number of emotional, logistical and financial considerations you won't find on the official invitation from your school.
It is not unusual to have mixed emotions about attending a class reunion. While the possibility of reconnecting with former friends can be exciting, there is also the possibility of rekindling former rivalries. One way to prepare emotionally is to keep your expectations realistic. Five and ten year reunions can be especially variable, since many of the participants are recent college graduates or young adults struggling to establish themselves. Attendees may feel compelled to revert to their perceived high school roles as a form of defense mechanism.
Another emotional element to consider is the bittersweet nature of a class reunion. You may discover that some classmates have passed away since graduation, while others have faced major upheavals in their lives. In addition, you may meet classmates who have become very successful and others who struggle financially. While the nostalgic elements often take center stage, it may help to view your classmates as contemporaries facing the same adult challenges you face. Try to relate to the 28-year-old single mother as much as the 18-year-old cheerleader you remember.
One consideration when preparing for a class reunion is logistics. The official invitation should include times and dates of the event itself, but transportation and lodging are your responsibility. You may have to request several days of vacation or personal time from your employer, and your spouse may also have to make special arrangements in order to accompany you. Travel could mean packing the family car or reserving tickets for the nearest airport to the venue. Some attendees contact former friends who still live in the area for overnight housing.
Financially, the cost of a class reunion can be prohibitive. Besides the traveling expenses, the price of the tickets is often substantial. There may also be other events scheduled throughout the reunion weekend, each with their own costs. Be prepared to budget extra money for entertainment, food and beverages.
Some things you may want to pack for a class reunion include yearbooks, photographs from high school days, current photographs of your family, and a blank scrapbook for reunion events. Some attendees may want to order personal business cards with complete contact information. The most important thing to remember is to live in the moment whenever possible, and remember that the event can be a very positive and memorable milestone in any adult's life.
I haven't attended any of my own class reunions, but I have gone with friends to theirs and I have to say it's a mixed bag. It's interesting to see what former classmates look like after five, 10 or 20 years, but sometimes the changes are hard to handle. These aren't the people you remember as 18 year olds back in the day, but the temptation is still there to treat them like they were.
The five year reunion is more of a reason for a class party, since most of the participants are still young and either in college or just graduating. It's like meeting the adult version of friends who just left your life a few years earlier.
By the tenth year reunion, however, those same people are talking about their kids, their marriages, their jobs and other things that rarely came up in high school conversations. It's really easy to want to compare your own life's progress against former classmates who have now had time to establish themselves personally and professionally.
The 20th high school reunion seems more about catching up on major changes, and in many cases, losses. Now these classmates are raising children of their own, some of whom are almost ready to graduate high school themselves. I think the 20th class reunion and beyond is when you can really feel the cycle of life.
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