For many years I’ve been thinking about my retirement party, the one I planned for the office. As an extrovert, I know and love lots of people. I was so excited and anticipating the opportunity to gather friends, colleagues, and family together, mostly to thank the people who have encouraged and supported me throughout my career and to say goodbye.
However, I realize that not everyone is like me. I’ve noticed that a number of retiring employees specifically ask for “no party!” Many of them say they just want to disappear one day, never to return. Others want something small, maybe some breakfast items at their cube or in the break room. A few have asked for a gathering in a conference room with their immediate team members.
I have always wanted a huge party, but I don’t think that will happen for me. Currently, in our state, we are not allowed to have gatherings larger than five people. For us, like many of you, that has meant weddings, sporting events, concerts, working out at a gym, or going to a bar is just not allowed to happen. At this point, public schools are closed and our offices won’t open to the public again until January 8th, at the earliest.
I’m sad that I’m not going to get my big party. I suppose it will save me some money because I was planning on paying for it myself. For years, I had envisioned nearly every detail. I had a menu chosen, an agenda for our activities, and a list of people to invite. My children and grandchildren knew that they were going to have to miss work and school and come up for the big day.
My plan was to end my career with a big party and from there whisk my family into a shuttle to the airport and fly to Costa Rica for my “graduation” trip. Since all of those plans are now extremely unlikely, I’ve decided that over the next six months, I’ll be thinking about how I can move to my “life reimagined” without a milestone, party, or a trip.
All of us have had to make changes to our plans. In my own family, my niece didn’t get to experience her senior prom, end of the year activities, graduation, or a party with the family to celebrate her accomplishment. Even her graduation trip to Italy with my sister was canceled.
While it will definitely not be the end of the world that I won’t get the party I had always dreamed of, I feel that when March 28th gets here, it will be a bittersweet ending to my time at the county.
However, I’m recognizing that because I am blessed and have much to be grateful for that I should instead focus on the future and start now to plan for the things I can do!
Barbara is the new star of the Rock Your Retirement show! For one year, she'll let Kathe Kline tag along as she goes through her retirement journey.
Maybe a one year retirement anniversary party instead?
Barbara, I totally relate. I retired after 38 years of teaching in May. The school held a “drive-by” retirement party for the 3 of us leaving. Maybe 10 people attended out of 80 staff. I felt so disappointed in the turnout, but understood. Not even my grade turned out to say goodbye. It’s October now, and I still can’t see my former coworkers due to Covid. Retirement is quite different from what I imagined. But, the next chapter will begin soon — that is our plan.
Karen, Thanks so much for your story. I imagine there are many of us that the retirement we had planned, will not be the one we experience. I’m glad you are are looking forward to the next chapter. Thanks for loving those kids for 38 years. I know you had an impact on them even if they weren’t able to say goodbye.