Earlier this month I turned 26, and, as has become tradition the last few years, I invited literally hundreds of Facebook friends to join me at IHOP for a celebration. Amazingly, this year we had really good weather: no snowpocalypse, no ice storm, just plain ol' cold temperatures. In total, 16 friends and family braved the freezing temps to come celebrate.
The IHOP folks dealt very well with the sudden influx of guests - I'd not had a chance to warn them in advance about the large group, but when my family showed up the manager decided to wait on our table personally. Given the numerous comings and goings through the evening, perhaps a wise choice.
For me, the greatest gift someone can give is time, and looking around the table I knew for some of these friends, time is a precious commodity right now. I was humbled for them to spend their evening with me. I was also mildly upset, because as soon as the group grew to a certain size, I couldn't talk with everyone. And by mixing friend groups, I run the risk of people not knowing anyone besides me. This was especially concerning when I looked at the other end of the table and saw many of my quiet, shy friends gathered at that end. Oops. The "get all your friends together and hit the restaurant" idea worked super well in college, where everyone more or less knew each other, but I'm finding it might work less and less well in "real life".
It turned out okay - the shy people were mixed in with just enough extroverts that it worked - and halfway through eating I switched ends of the table to spend time with those friends. But still, I'm not sure if I'll do this again next year. I'd rather spend quality one-on-one time with all these friends, than limit our conversations (both in time and depth) in order to get around the table and see everyone. And I left the evening feeling as if I'd missed out, because no matter who I was talking to, there were other conversations I probably should have been in, too. I feel like I couldn't win.
Time to start brainstorming for next year. Maybe laser tag.