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As Marie Kondo says “If it brings you joy…keep it” and that’s how my husband and I feel about our now bi-annual weekends away with a very special friend group.

11 years ago we were invited into a gathering of friends for an annual ski trip and it has become one of our favorite times. The groups’ interests and rhythms are so well suited we now gather twice a year.

Reflecting on our way home about what worked and why this time is so unique, we made a list of the top 9 ingredients that made this magical coming together gel so well. Marie Kondo we are sure would agree with them.

1 A welcoming Home Base. The truth is we are hosted in one couples home most of the time, so that’s an amazing and generous gift to start with. It’s easy because we are guests.  That said, being invited back isn’t automatic. Knowing how to be a good camper and playing well with bunkmates is still key. No one has been booted yet but we are all aware of how lucky we are to be included year after year.

2. A Like minded group. Our gang happens to be obsessed with athletic activities and games. Those who are not a 3 (now 2) activity a day kinda person, need not apply. Mornings start with 20 mile bike rides followed by tennis round robins and lunch. Beach walking or snow shoeing is an apres activity and not necessarily the main event.

Grocery shopping is coordinated as are cooking and cleaning and everyone does their bit. Barely a whine is heard.

2. Oys and Veys Be Damned. Despite the over 60 age of all, we are in good health. Ok, well maybe, not perfect health… but good enough to still be an active participant. The truth is, we have several cancer survivors, multiple knee, shoulder, foot and hip surgeries which could have sidelined many, but not this group. The repairs have gone well and the group still boasts a multi-sport schedule and most are extremely competitive (albeit well behaved), stellar, tennis players bikers skiers swimmers and hikers.

3. Open minded and Quick Learners. A new game is always welcomed either apres dinner or on a rainy morning. This last visit my husband and I turned the gang onto a board game called Codenames which was a big hit. The group excelled brilliantly and quickly out performed us. (Well just me).

Pickle Ball was also a new addition, and for those who weren’t sure of the rules, my husband who was nursing a few broken ribs this past visit, couldn’t resist jumping on the court to model how it’s done.

3 Big personalities abound. There are no intraverts in this group. One would have to love to gab non-stop to enjoy 3 to 4 nights together. Everyone always brings something to share…. stories, food, tools to fix broken bikes and screen doors. Each person is accommodating and no one is catty…although not taking the jabbing and joking personally is key to a great time.

4. Non-judgemental imbibing. We love our cocktails and appreciate a good wine. This is essential and so far we have 100% participation.

5 Going with the flow. There are no control freaks in this group and each activity is voted on with options. But like all good democracies there is a leader who makes the offerings and ultimately sets the schedule. He’s so good at it, most of the time we prefer to be just be told where to show up and when.

6 Play now, pay later. Financially one person keeps track of the spending so we can contribute equally at the end of the day.

7 Likability/Lovability. The women love each other’s company as much as the men. There is no bad seat at the table.

8 No Whining. Everyone has aches and pains which are greeted with compassion and humor but no one obsesses about their health. 

9 Growing Up Together. We have shared in each other other’s kids and many weddings. We raised our kids in the same town and have watched each other transition into in-laws and most recently grandparents. All transitions feel easier when discussed with those who understand.

I could go on and on about what works with our group, but the biggest takeaway for us all is, we are a grateful bunch and we know how much crap life can throw at us. So, when we have an opportunity to be together with this friend group who are supportive and fun and leave us feeling loved — we know how incredible this gift is and keeps us coming back for more.

Felice Shapiro

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