Gratitude Friday: Celebrating Friendship

Grat Friday - Celebrating Friends Edition“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” 

― Marcel Proust

I lost a sweet friend last week. We weren’t childhood friends, or college friends, or couples friends or even “meet for coffee” friends. Some might consider us mere acquaintances. But I thought of her as my friend. My happenstance friend. Our oldest kids are the same age, so over the years we’d find ourselves at the same school events and community activities. From time to time we’d run into each other at the grocery store. She was caring enough to introduce herself when she recognized I was new to the area six years ago, and without fail she had a warm hug and a smile whenever our paths crossed. She always took a few minutes to ask about my family and to tell me about hers with the pride and love of a fiercely devoted mama. We sat together at a college info session last year and she was over-the-moon excited to be flying out that night with her son to show him her beloved alma mater as a prospective student. He ended up applying early, getting in and starting there as a freshman this fall. I know how thrilled she must’ve been and it filled me with happiness. Her passing just before Thanksgiving was unexpected and tremendously sad. My heart has been heavy and grief-stricken since I heard the news. She touched my life briefly yet so profoundly—my kind, genuine, happenstance friend. For that I am grateful.

I’m grateful, too, for my forever friends. There’s a tiny group of us who’ve known each other since birth and diapers, my sister and brother included. We’ve overcome frivolous childhood spats, withstood lapses in closeness, weathered political animosity. We’ve watched each other grow and blossom, in spite of the crazy embarrassments and mischievous secrets we know about each other from our youth. We’ve championed each other’s joys and successes and comforted each other during times of sadness and sorrow. Who knows if we’d be friends if we met as adults? But with forever friends, it doesn’t matter. You can time-travel together, regressing to simpler, sillier times in life and for a few precious moments, all is right with the world. You need only mention the punchline of a lifelong private joke and you’re all instantly reduced to laughing so hard you can’t catch your breath. I got to spend an evening with these forever friends last week, and the specialness of the occasion was not lost on me. I couldn’t help but sit back and quietly glance around the table a few times during dinner, savoring my good fortune. For what’s better or more meaningful than toasting to merry things with people you truly adore and admire?

There are so many other kinds of friends I’m blessed to have in my life…

There are dear friends who willingly and excitedly cross state lines to meet for dinner, with whom someday we will actually do that decadent Napa trip of debauchery we’ve always talked about…

There are new friends who feel like old friends—the kind you meet up with for a quick coffee and all of a sudden it’s three-and-a-half hours later…

There are soul-sista friends who believe deeply and passionately in the same things you do or who’ve muddled through the same terrifying trenches you have and survived…

There are long-lost friends who make the effort to reconnect when they’ve dug up an old photo of you with a perm, wearing a plaid shirt and eating with your hands at the Medieval Manor a hundred years ago…

There are friends you’ve had oodles of fun with when your lives used to intersect, but who you still have strong fondness for even though distance and circumstance conspire to keep you apart…

There are friends you meet through common friends—you don’t really see each other unless the “glue people” bring you together—but they’re nice friends nonetheless…

There are virtual friends…some I went to nursery school, grade school or college with and although we haven’t seen each other in decades, we still keep in touch. Others are former neighbors, former colleagues, friends of my parents, friends of my kids. A few are fascinating folks I’ve connected with through common friends, but we’ve never actually met in person…

And of course there are wonderful happenstance friends, those random people who pop up and brighten up your day when fate puts you in the same place at the same time.

The thing about friendships is that they’re not static. They evolve and change; there’s an ebb and flow over time. Sometimes they grow deeper, stronger, more familiar. Sometimes they grow cooler, more distant, more cordial. Sometimes, sadly, they run their course and come to an end.

I’m thankful for all my friends, from so many diverse times in my life. You make everything more vivid. You make me laugh. You make me think and smile and appreciate the world through different lenses. Each in your own unique way, you make my soul blossom.

 

Also...

The topic of the week seems to be holiday gift ideas...I've had a bunch of friends ask if I had suggestions for colleagues, clients and teachers. Here are two fantastic places for gifts:

Lisa's Cookie Shop bakes and ships scrumptious goodies to order. A darling friend surprised me with a basket of delectable treats from Lisa's this fall and the whole family swooned. We all had different faves, but the raspberry bars were out of this world.  And to top it off, they were just included in Food & Wine's Best of the Holidays series!

•  An Extra Boost Of... offers an adorable giftware line featuring uplifting and inspiring quotes. The coffee and soup mugs make especially thoughtful teacher gifts. You can shop online or find a location selling An Extra Boost Of... gifts near you.

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