Fourteen years ago my younger daughter, Tara, and I wanted to organize a group for playing cards or games each month. We decided it would be fun having friends of varying ages participate. We sent out invitations detailing plans, and invited those interested to attend a get-acquainted evening.
Many games are available but some require more concentration than we wanted devoted to our time together. Some 45 years ago I belonged to a monthly Bunco group. The game has few rules and allows for enjoyable distractions like conversation and laughter. Given that we were interested in camaraderie as much as wins, we chose to play Bunco.
Our invitation list included women Tara’s age, late 20’s at the time, and my age, mid-50’s and older. Some of the women already knew each other, and others knew only Tara or me. We decided the preliminaries: meeting at 7 p.m. on the second Monday of the month; hosting by one of the 12 women who would serve snacks and beverages and provide four prizes valued collectively at approximately $36.
That welcome meeting was in April, and since some women had plans already for May, our official kickoff was June of 2004. A three-minute explanation of the game, a refresher in introductions of people present and the evening was underway.
Hosting 12 women whose ages might vary 30 plus years from youngest to oldest requires some time to get past any awkwardness that might arise from the unique situation. We were also from a variety of backgrounds, with a mix of current positions in life from newly married to celebrating 40 years of marriage; some grandmas and others just starting a family; some retired, and others in the workforce.
Conversations the first couple months, while always friendly, were perhaps a bit strained. It takes time and a certain transparency to form even a casual relationship. But after about the third month, we understood it’s not about differences, it’s about an enthusiasm to share time, laughter, ideas and enjoyment with a group of women we’re pleased to know.
From our original group of 12, five have played from day one, and seven others have since replaced original ones. Sadly one initial member, Janis, died from cancer in 2009. Two women moved to other states, and others dropped out because of personal circumstances. Interestingly, we’re still six older and six younger members. We’ve changed our time to 6 p.m. and now we share dinner together.
We’ve celebrated babies’ arrivals; consoled two women whose husbands have died; encouraged one friend going through extensive cancer treatment; and joined together to offer comfort or congratulations, depending on circumstances. Tears sometimes flow freely, laughter is always abundant and acceptance and sometimes advice reign supreme in challenging situations.
Prizes are coveted like they were fortunes, but our real riches are found in friendships we’ve formed and time shared together. Lady Luck is with us each month, for much more than just rolling the dice.