"Make new friends, but keep the old..."
I was a girl scout when I was young and then a girl scout leader as a mom, so I certainly know this song. Just before and after the holidays this year friends visited my home.
The first friends to visit us were a family from Australia. I had not met them before they arrived. The dad of the family was last in our town when he was about 16 years old. He knew my DH when they were children and then again when they were teens. The short story on his family is that when he was a tot, around 1970, his parents brought himself, his brother and sister here from Australia for his dad to work on his Master and PHD degrees. They spent several years here the first time and became good family friends of my in-laws. They returned about 6 years later, around 1979, for a few months. Apparently Bloomington holds a little bit of this boy then teen and now man's heart...I wonder when he realized that?
Flash forward to December 2010...Now a successful Australian businessman, he had planned for over two years to bring his family to the United States for a whirl-wind, month-long tour. His family, along with four other families from his hometown, ALL travel together to LA. They spent four days, sightseeing, etc, before splitting up. All the families have their own itinerary. Periodically they met up; sometimes as just 2 families, sometimes as all 5 families! Our friends hit LA, then flew to St. Louis, drove to Bloomington, flew to Orlando, then NY, then Denver, then Las Vegas, and then to Hawaii...before heading home to Australia. Their travels included doing Disneyland, seeing the Arch, going to Universal Studios, ice skating at Rockefeller Center, celebrating Christmas on the ski slopes of Denver, ringing in the new year in Vegas and then surfing in Hawaii.
In the middle of that they dropped by Bloomington, IN. Can you imagine yourself being 15 or 17 years old and going back to see where your dad grew up after being at Disneyland?
I have to comment that for the past 24 years I have helped play hostess to whomever my mother-in-law (MIL) has decided to invite to our holiday gatherings: college students from Tunisia, China, Korea, Germany, Trinidad, etc. Each time we have guests, my children (and FIL) help host too. They, my children and FIL, grumble at first but in the end it's usually a non-event. "Why does G-ma/my wife.....?"
Now, here in Bloomington, before our guests arrived, I was hearing the normal grumbles...but THIS time the guests were actually REAL people! They had kids my own kids ages and lo-and-behold...after a tad of pushing...the kids connected!!!
Board games were played, and the Wii used too.
My kids got an early Christmas present with the weather and knew school was cancelled for the next day! Our Australian friends had not decorated gingerbread cookies before...much more fun to decorate than to eat...in my opinion. I'm a sugar cookie with frosting fan.
*****Winston was a nice host too and showed off his woodland trails, complete with deer!
The snow was a treat. Our friend's children had seen snow, but had not seen it fall before. A snowball fight, with hot chocolate after, took place before dinner.
Can you tell who recently had surgery on his knee and couldn't run? One of the four was an easy target!
*****I made the kids stop for a picture. If our friends were taking note they'd see that the American kids were planning their next move (above) .....siblings!
Within a few hours of departing, all the teens were "friends" on Facebook.
Speaking of Facebook...
I was able to connect with a few of my own high school buddies. My next friends to visit happened because of the power of Facebook. Say what you will about it, for someone who grew up having a wonderful group of people to share my life experiences with, but moved away after high school, it has been a fantastic tool in helping me re-connect to my past life.
Prompted by the middle person in our photo, five of us were able to get together for a mini-reunion one evening. My husband stayed in the background, like a fly on the wall this night. Later he commented on how neat it was to listen to all of us share our memories and re-connect. That's a nice comment coming from a person who doesn't like to reminisce!
"...one is silver and the other is gold."