Defining Friendship

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One gray and dismal afternoon back in December, I was stuck indoors with a sick child and fretting over when and how I was going to get everything done before Christmas.  The everything seemed overwhelming that particular day and admittedly, I was indulging in my own little pity party.  Feeling rather discouraged and exhausted, I unlocked my front door anticipating a barrage of bills and catalogs (don’t you love the holidays?) waiting for me in the mailbox when I came across an unmarked package sitting in my entryway.  My three old year was squealing with delight at the prospect of an early Christmas gift magically appearing at our doorstep.  So, together, we eagerly threw back the layers of red and green tissue and discovered a lovely card holder in the shape of a wreath.  There was no note attached but immediately, I knew who it was from.  A friend.  A true friend.  I had been at a cookie swap party a few nights earlier and had mentioned in casual conversation that I’d love to be able to figure out a charming way to display all of our holiday cards.  I was so touched that not only did she remember what I had said but that she took the time out of her hectic schedule to think of me and personally deliver this gift to my front door.  This modest act of kindness and generosity brought tears to my eyes.  She didn’t know that this small but meaningful gesture instantly turned my day around.

As a mother, I observe my children, in all their different stages, as they navigate through the complex world of friendships.  I always remind them of the golden rule: treat others the way you wish to be treated.  This seems simple in theory but to actually execute this is entirely different.  As humans, no one is perfect.  We are all flawed.  So, instinctively, we tend to be selfish beings.  It takes thought and effort to put others first.  To me, that is what defines friendship.  A real friend is someone who truly wishes you well.  It is someone who wants the very best for you.  This doesn’t always mean telling that person what they want to hear but instead, having the courage to tell the truth for their own benefit.  It is someone who is a good influence, who inspires you to be a better person.  A friend is someone who shares common interests and values.  A friend is someone you can confide in and trust.  A friend is someone you can laugh with and someone who will be of great comfort.  A friend is someone who listens and doesn’t hesitate to say, “I love you.”  In order to find this kind of friendship and to maintain it, you have to be this kind of friend.  Friendship is reciprocal.  It is a relationship that is far from perfect and will take many twists and turns as we go through life.  But, real friendships last when they are valued and nourished.

Lately, I have been reflecting on the many friendships I have experienced through the years.  Sadly, some friendships have dwindled due to geographical distance or a lack of common interests and beliefs and tragically, I lost a dear friend who unexpectedly passed away.  It has taught me as I grow older (and hopefully, a little wiser) to appreciate and cherish the strong bonds I do have with certain people in my life.  But, also to remember to continue to adhere to my own advice and be the friend to others that I wish to have.