Last week was a busy one, with the election, the rally and the resulting lack of sleep. It took me until Friday to feel a little bit rested and then it was up and out again--traveling on Friday, two parties on Saturday--one in Champaign, the other in Bolingbrook--opposite ends of my little world. Early rising comes with the territory when one is spending the night with grandchildren. Sleeping is seen as time wasted when Lincoln logs, blocks and coloring books are calling out for companionship. So the late night of shopping and decorated melded into an early morning wake-up call. There's no time like 6:50 AM to begin the celebration. We worked, played and laughed. A good time!
Leaving Champaign about 4:30 PM, we headed immediately to Bolingbrook, stopping only for a bottle of wine along the way. I found myself nodding off during the ride; I don't know how my husband kept his eyes open, especially as he listened to Garrison Keillor telling his stories. While I find him mildly interesting, Keillor's voice inevitably lulls me to sleep. This time was no exception. It is good that my husband enjoys driving and I enjoy being the passenger. A little nap always does me good.
The Bolingbrook party was a gathering of faculty members from the school in which my husband teaches. All of my children attended that high school, so we are not only a faculty couple but a parenting couple--a double whammy in a close-knit school culture. Not ones to make a grand entrance, it could not be avoided this time. We were swarmed the minute we walked in the door.
Inquiries and comments about Jeff, who works for Barack Obama, abounded. We rode the coattails of his mini-celebrity as questions were asked and congratulations handed out. This topic exhausted, the questioning turned to the others. My daughter, Amy, extroverted by nature and so known by all, becomes every teacher's child as they ask about her upcoming deployment. The room grew quiet.
From congratulations to sympathy, the emotions of the evening swung from one extreme to the other. In either case, it is clear. We, as parents, bask in the reflected glory of our children.
Eventually, my eldest daughter, Erin, married and with three children, became the centrist topic. How's her family? How are the kids? Safe topics for discussion, no political incorrectness here. People exhibit both interest and empathy. It is clear, my kids are well respected by this group.
Conversation moves on to other topics. Food is served; drinks are poured. We watch the younger children running through the house. While we weren't looking, my husband and I have become the seniors in this group. It is good to be a of part it; this generation helps to keep us young and reminds us of our own children, scattered far and wide. We have so little, and yet so much, in common, a strange symbiosis that precludes division.
I am struck by the connectedness of people these days. I saw it during the election season and more clearly at the rally on election night, when stranger danced with stranger, but it goes beyond that. I believe that people are searching for meaning in these troubled times. Building relationships helps with this. Connections are made and relationships formed not just out of self-interest, but from the broader perspective of "being in this together." Comfort and hope form a partnership, sustaining each member when times are down. And when times are good, we can take the opportunity to celebrate, together, each individual and collective victory. It is right that competition and differences get set aside. Instead, we lean on and learn from each other. In a spirit of comaraderie, we raise our glasses and toast: Here's to those who wish us well!