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April Jeppson: Life is blessed by many amazing friends

Every Little Thing, by April Jeppson

I met someone the other day, and they asked me how my reunion went. I was a little confused because I didn’t tell them about my 20-year reunion. In fact, I had only spoken with this person a handful of times in my life. After some back and forth, I learned that they read my columns and this is where they got their intel from. This got me thinking that perhaps this wasn’t the only person who was wondering how some of my stories ended. So here’s the recap column.

I’ll start with my reunion. I had hoped for 10 of my classmates to show up out of 32. I thought it would be a fun and safe time for people to gather but still stay within guidelines. Well let me tell you something, I was right! The first night there were five of us. The bar that we met at, Mark’s, was in town and prepped with outdoor tents for the daytime activities. Since we didn’t get there until after supper, all the activities were done and most of the people were gone. By the time I arrived, there were maybe 20 people total outside hanging out.

The next day we gathered in the afternoon at a different bar in town. There was a stage set up and the street was blocked off. Live music played as people talked and danced. We had two more classmates join us for our unofficial party. After the dinner rush, we headed back to Mark’s because, honestly, I enjoyed the atmosphere better. They still had the outdoor tents, the DJ was playing music specifically for us and they had brought out a fire pit for us to sit around.

Again, there were maybe 20 people outside when we arrived. We talked and laughed around the fire and challenged each other to a game of bags. While I was learning the game Hammerschloggen, two more of our classmates showed up. Although our senior class was small, we still all hung around different groups, and yet it didn’t feel like it that night. We told stories of elementary school, verified and denied 20 year old rumors and just genuinely had a great time. I also thoroughly sprayed my friends down with my mother’s hand sanitizer (at her request).

The following day, an aditional classmate reached out to me to see if I could meet him quick before he left town. He had originally come up for the reunion, but his folks didn’t feel comfortable with him going out to the bars. So he respected his elders and then waited until he was heading home to meet me for a root beer. That right there makes 10 classmates. I did it! We are almost at the 14-day mark, and so far zero of my classmates have reported getting COVID. Fingers crossed, but I do believe I was able to pull off a responsible and successful reunion during a pandemic.

The next update I wanted to give was about AprilPalooza. I apparently was feeling a little whiny when I wrote it. It’s not my style to complain. Life is amazing and there is simply too much awesomeness in the world to dwell on the negatives for long. I just wrapped up the end of my celebration, and let me tell you, it might have been the best one yet.

I took my family to Red Lobster. That in and of itself is amazing, and I’ll explain why. For years we relied on the help of WIC and a diet heavy in rice and beans. Going out to McDonald’s as a family was a treat. So the simple fact that I can even afford to take my family to Red Lobster almost gets me teary-eyed. Teaching my daughter how to crack into crab legs and watching my son learn that lobster is not as delicious as all those movies make it out to be — we made some serious memories that day.

I was able to go out to eat with so many of my friends. I was angry that the pandemic was putting restrictions on my favorite things. I was focusing on the negative, instead of seeing the opportunities I still had available. At one restaurant, I knew the chef, and he allowed me to order something that wasn’t on the menu for that night. Sure, it was only buffalo wings, but dang — I love me some buffalo wings.

The morning of my birthday, I showed up at 6 a.m. to a decorated gym. My workout buddies were all decked out in hats and blowing noisemakers when I walked in. My friend even brought in a cake! Speaking of cake, at 9:15 that night, a co-worker dropped off a turtle cheesecake on my porch. Keep in mind, on my actual birthday I worked 12 hours, and it was still an awesome day.

My friends and family all came together over the course of the week and really made me feel special. I had flowers at my desk, more cake than I know what to do with and a ton of meals with the ones I love. I seriously do have the best friends.

Whether I’ve known them since third grade or for the last six months, I am truly blessed with the best friends.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.