It’s the Company!

I have previously mentioned my love for Reminisce Magazine. They have recently made some changes that have brought the magazine back to its roots, and I’m glad. A person can learn a lot from the past and how people not only survived, but enjoyed love and blessings through the good and bad of life.Younger people who know nothing about the Great Depression, rationing and World War II, and other hardships of life from years ago need to read the stories told by people who lived it. It has a way of putting everything in perspective.

One story that stays with me is a brief paragraph that accompanied a photo of a young woman’s high school graduation party in a tiny Brooklyn apartment. In the black and white photograph, the laughing faces are crowded around a small table with mismatched dishes. Friends and family were having a joyful time together in the tiny kitchen. The people are what made it a happy scene, not the kitchen counter tops or decor.

carwashThis weekend our two favorite people in the world came to town for a brief visit. It was unexpected, and that made it all the more fun. My brother-in-law Mike and sister-in-law Kris always bring a lot of love and laughs when they are around. We went out for dinner Saturday night and our son Jon, who was driving, decided to go through a car wash first. I am still not sure why he chose that time to do it, but as we sat in line waiting, the comments and jokes started and before long, we were all in stitches. The laughing continued all the way through the longer than usual wash, and by the time we were done, we had all enjoyed ourselves. “You came all the way up here for us to get entertained by a car wash,” someone noted.

“We don’t get out much,” I added, and we all laughed some more.

It was, of course, the company. I have been at well-planned social events that felt like a funeral. One party I attended before I married Tom was so grim, everybody started leaving before it had hardly started. It’s fascinating to watch how certain personalities mixed together can turn an otherwise completely mundane activity into a lot of fun. It’s not just about what personalities are present, but also, what traits are missing.

Ego-driven people destroy gatherings. Constantly worrying about whether somebody took things the wrong way or whether they got enough of the spotlight is an atmosphere killer. Hyper-sensitive types who sit in the corner and sulk because they feel left out are ruinous to enjoyment. I’ve also been in settings where one person dominates the conversation, and not in a good way. Some people actually control a setting with the sound of their own voice. That’s a joy killer for sure.

The enjoyment begins with a lightheartedness in everyone involved in a setting where you can be yourself without fear of judgment or criticism. When Mike and Kris come around, that’s what we have. We’ve enjoyed their visits for 20 years now, and the kids are always delighted when they turn up.

People like this are a gift to others. The older I get, the more I appreciate this ability to bring sunlight into situations rather than gloom and doom. The world is ugly enough without us adding to it.

The next time Mike and Kris come to visit, we will have to take another trip through the car wash. I’m smiling as I type this. It really wasn’t the car wash, it was the company that made all the difference!