I have always had a lot of people I consider friends. I was a “floater” in High School, meaning that I had lots of friends in different groups: the popular kids, the skaters, the nerds, the jocks, the outcasts. My core group of “close friends” was much smaller.
Flash forward 21 years, and not much has changed. I have 255 Facebook friends, and yes, I know them all. Many are people that I’ve known since literally infancy, much of my High School (we were mostly all together in Middle School as well) class is on my page, and of course those I’ve met as an adult. I still have a very small core group of people I consider “close friends”. These are people that I trust implicitly with my children, and know that if I needed any one of them, they would be there for me and/or my family without hesitation.
In the last year, I’ve started having coffee every other Friday with three neighborhood friends. A couple of us have had kids in the same schools and activities; one is newer (okay, six years) to the neighborhood. These women have quickly become close friends. It began as a “Hey, wanna come over for coffee?” with my next door neighbor. Four hours passed like they were nothing. We set a date two weeks later (works with both our schedules) and she asked if I minded having her other next door neighbor join us. “The more the merrier!” I replied. After that hours-long coffee, she asked if she could invite her college friend who lived around the corner for the next time. A tradition was born. We take turns hostessing, and have had a wonderful time together. We discuss our families (husbands, kids, parents, and siblings), Church lives, Spiritual lives, health, and have lots of laughs along the way. We are expanding our fun at morning coffee to a “Girl’s Weekend” in one of our campers. We are a bunch of gals sitting around laughing, having fun, and sharing some deeply personal feelings. Just as we all have in the past with our childhood friends. Not much has changed.
Last weekend, my boys (husband included) were all off camping with our Boy Scout Troop. I had a Tastefully Simple party. There was more great conversation along with the great food. One of my friends at the party was also sleeping over. Her boys were also camping with the Troop. A young lady, who is my honorary daughter, stayed until 11:30 that night chatting with the two of us. We, along with another friend, had been discussing having a “Wedding Day” where we would share our photo albums, dresses, and cake with this young lady. She is fascinated by history, and loves to hear family stories. Since we had ¾ of us there, I decided to haul out my dress. She tried it on, and we spent the hours sharing family stories along with lots of laughter, and some tears. It was wonderful.
As she left, my “daughter” said, “Thanks for showing me that friends are just as important when you are older as they were when we were younger.” That comment gave me pause. I’ve never not had friends. My core group of friends has shifted slightly over the years as adult responsibilities and locations have changed, but I’ve always had a core group of friends to rely on. Friends are so important to who we are as a person. Too often, I think, we get caught up in being our titles. Spouse, Parent, Child, Aunt, Co-Worker. It is easy to lose sight of who WE are. Our friends help us remember that person, help us nurture that person. Our friends when we are young help us get through school, dealing with parents and siblings, first crushes and first heartbreaks. We grow older, get busy, and soon we find ourselves once again dealing with our parents, our siblings, our spouses, our children, our jobs, our health. Having friends, and a good core group of friends is just as, if not more important as we get older.
So, ala Virginia Hanlon’s question in 1897 as to whether there was a Santa Claus, I say to my young friend, “Yes, my daughter, we do have friends as we get older. They are ever more important, and just as sweet as when we were younger.”
Thank you to my friends.