There is a special magic which occurs when the eight people pictured – the Bergs, Repsholdts, Glucks, and Marschalls – manage to gather around one dinner table for their annual once-a-year meal. But getting our eight calendars to align is incredibly tricky- roughly akin to getting Meryl Streep, Barbra Streisand and Bette Davis signed to the same film. In fact, after nine consecutive years of gathering for a special meal, the eight-fold craziness of our collective lives prevented us from doing our meal last year. But that just made us appreciate this year’s gathering all the more.
For the eight of us, this past year has brought a fair amount of misfortune, including: a brother in intensive care, a parent involved in a traffic fatality, another parent undergoing serious heart surgery, a son desperately needing a job in California, etc. But there was also plenty of good news- a daughter starting high school, a sister at last engaged to be married, the job-seeking son finding a job, etc. It was such an intriguing reminder of how life is made up of good and bad, bright and dark – almost like squares on a checkerboard – and of how the love and concern of our friends can help make sense of all that.
Mostly, though, our gatherings (and this one was no different) are marked by plenty of whole-hearted laughter – the kind of laughter that only dear friends can really enjoy together. And by the end of our evening, we had both laughed ourselves and eaten ourselves silly. (Thank you, Buca di Beppo, for the glorious Italian food.) And I think we pretty much committed ourselves to never letting another year go by without gathering around a dinner table to remind ourselves of how good it is to be friends.