Grandma Millie and the Rosebud Necklace

by swellsbennett

Those of you who know me personally are aware that I am something of a recluse. That’s not so unusual, when my occupation is taken into consideration; as a novelist, hours spent alone in front of my computer are necessary in order to produce entertaining fiction.

However, I’ve never been a particularly social person. I have probably spent more hours in front of computers than any normal human being should. I love video games, surfing the web, and, sadly, Facebook. I have more “virtual friends” than real ones by a margin of 50 to 1. Therefore, those of you who know me personally are…rare.

That said, I’ve led a happy life. I have a few close friends that I can count on, a small but close family, and a wonderful marriage. So it might strike you as odd that I have recently begun a quest to obtain more “real-world” friends. I can’t say exactly why, but when my friend Emma mentioned that she had joined a sorority, I was jealous – even after she described the group of mostly old women and their obsession with who brought the trash bags last week and who would be bringing them the next. Suddenly, I wanted my own group of women (hopefully a little closer to my age than the seventy-and-ups Emma had found) to join.

That’s when I remembered my Grandma Millie. She was in a sorority and she loved her sorority sisters. Years ago, when I was a child, Grandma Millie insisted that Mom and I attend the Tannenbaum Breakfast that the Centennial City Council hosted every Christmas. I vaguely remembered a ceremony that had taken place at one of these breakfasts; in it, my grandmother had presented me with a yellow-rosebud necklace. That necklace meant something – I was a legacy! But I couldn’t remember what the sorority was called. A quick search of the internet turned up Beta Sigma Phi. Sure enough, I was in their records.

I have now had the pleasure of meeting two different chapters of Beta Sigma Phi. All of the women have greeted me warmly, though I feel more comfortable with one group than the other. I am very much looking forward to joining their chapter – if they will have me.

Though many social organizations have suffered declining enrollment in the last few decades, I honestly believe they are on the cusp of a renaissance. As the “Me” Generation ages, more and more of us are seeking a “we” to be a part of. Most of us have friendships that have stood the test of time, but those friends may live thousands of miles away. Work friendships tend to stay in the workplace. Neighbors may as well be strangers, for the most part.

Social organizations offer more than friendship: they offer a chance to make a real impact in community service. For instance, one of the chapters I visited with spends one day a month volunteering for a charity. How many of us intend to volunteer but never actually do it? Fraternal and sororal organizations put those opportunities on a calendar and guarantee that you’ll have company as you do good for others.

What do I hope to gain from joining Beta Sigma Phi? A better “virtual friends” to real friends ratio, for one thing. A fuller and more fulfilling life. And a sense of belonging to something worthwhile.

yellow rosebud

yellow rosebud (Photo credit: buttersweet)

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