General

From Birthdays to Reunions

The morning after my last birthday, Facebook told me that they counted 118 birthday messages through their system and made me a short video which I uploaded by reflex, attracting a few laughs I guess. I received additional greetings through emails, WhatsApp, Messengers and Messages – some were repetitive though and some came in after the date – so that there must be some 200 or more friends who had sent me birthday messages last week because I had been known to have a birthday last week.

I tried to like each Facebook post and reply to all messages from whatever sources, which made me rather busy and somewhat listless at times. There was a time in the past I told myself not to engage in such not so meaningful activities – sometimes I couldn’t even recognize who the senders were – but I have since resigned to accepting such automatous protocol almost as a necessity. This is another byproduct of the internet and social media.

I wish I had a better way of thanking these friends sufficiently. I am sure that many of them had not sent me their greetings simply by reflex. There must be some thought processes which triggered and precipitated their actions, some of which were quite personal and specific, and which I rather liked when I saw them. I honestly believe that such thought processes, though not complex, are not simple or simplistic.

Some of you may have heard by now that the birthday recognized by Facebook is actually not my biological birthday. That’s a long story which I would probably use to start my autobiography, if ever I decide to write one. In practice, April has now become a celebratory month for birthdays and anniversaries. My son’s birthday is in April; and so are many of our good friends’.  Our wedding anniversary is in April; and Easter is in April.

Talking of anniversaries, it seems that people generally would take more seriously some anniversaries than others; and the first, fifth and tenth anniversaries are the natural winners. For my high school, and I suppose for most high schools, we began to organize reunions after we had graduated for 25 or 30 years when we were in our fifties. Universities have acted similarly. Certainly with my alma mater, the alumni section would actually offer help to organize reunions every five years after they had graduated for 25 years. The 55th Graduation Reunion for my high school is coming up next year; and today we had our first planning meeting over lunch to discuss what to do.

Alumni lunches are always great fun. One main feature is that the same people always repeat similar jokes on some other people without causing offence, while old episodes half a century before can always be trotted out and generate as much laughter and amusement as if they were new. We had a natural organizer for many years. He was effective, methodical and charismatic, and he had the time and energies. He kept the mailing lists up to date and had the up to date first names of the wives on a list which he would email to all attendees before a reunion. Sadly, he passed away two years ago, and six of us had to share the job he used to do all by himself.

At lunch today, the most senior in age amongst us spoke first. He said he would attach great and special significance to this next reunion, because most of the classmates are now over 70 and he could not be sure how many would be around for the one following when he would be close to 80.  Discussions focus on where we would go for a 3-day tour which is the centre piece of every reunion. For the past three reunions, we had chosen cities in China, but the logistics were often nightmares, particularly now that we had lost our natural organizer. The preliminary consensus was that we can do it in Hong Kong, with some planning, which would eliminate most of the transport and logistical problems.  Besides, there are many places in Hong Kong that many of us may not have visited, let alone our classmates living oversea.

Good food and accommodation seems to be the order of the day now. After all, at our age, most of us have been to many places, including many cities in China. We don’t need to go through the vagaries of young travelers; and some of us may not have the constitutions for them.

One person suggested sending out a questionnaire on places to go. Well, democracy is something good to look at but difficult in practice. To start with, our classmates may not even respond; and when they do, views would be divided.

I hope to talk to you again soon.

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