…for so many blessings bestowed upon us in the past year. A year. We never know from one Thanksgiving table to the next what will unfold in our lives. We hope. We pray. We listen. We learn. And each day we wake up and promise to do the best we can. We know we must move forward, in trust, even when going backwards to settle something undone, or done poorly, feels like a more natural direction. Forward march. Best direction. Really, the only direction.
There were many things to be thankful for today. But I have learned not to just list the blessings on one day. I have come to give thanks on many days, on days that just felt like a thanksgiving. On days when I just felt that the Universe had given me a gift. And for that gift I felt thankful. And filled with gratitude. If we are listening and watching, the gifts sometimes come in the smallest ways, the tiniest packages. The blessings to be thankful for in this past year had no monetary value.
Surely there are people all over the country preparing for their Black Friday shopping sprees. For me, never have, never will wake up in the wee hours to go shop for a bargain or amazing sale. The savings, the big-ticket item, the quest for the sale mean nothing in comparison to the simplicity of realizing the best of all gifts is the connecting with people you care about and who care about you. Somehow simplicity gets lost in the days between Thanksgiving and Christmas. How we preserve a balanced approach to the holidays is only in realizing our gifts are there before us to honor and nourish and foster.
Of the gifts I refer to here, among the greatest of all for me… is the gift of friendship. Friends web out all across our lives. Childhood friends. Neighborhood friends. School friends. College friends. Work friends. And on and on across all the parts of our journeys from one year to the next. One zip code to the next. And the reality is we cannot possibly keep every friend we ever had or made. Some friends come along because we are meant to help them. Or they help us. Some friends stay a little while. Others are never in doubt for being there forever. Each one is a gift. Each one matters and helps to shape who we are.
In TEAPOTS, friendship is a very significant thread and theme. There is the friendship of Thomas and Sophia and the friendship of Tessie and John. There are also the friendships of long ago of Memi and her friends like Eva. The timing of friendships, both of when they start and when they pause or even end, is unpredictable.
Sometimes we must realize that a friend has left and will not be coming back. No one wants to admit that a friend’s time in your story is over. Friends who matter are supposed to stay. You care for them and nurture them. And you even count them as a blessing. But sometimes you just realize the friendship, the give and take, the laughter and sharing is just done. Accepting a friend’s departure allows you to move ahead and while you can carry the person in thought and prayer, the connecting and the caring evaporate and someday it all seems too long ago to remember.
But that’s sometimes when life presents those unplanned gifts. The gifts we would never even dream to ask for or believe would be real. Like when 7 girls from high school could go to a 35th high school reunion this past October and reconnect in such a way that we all felt was a most well-timed gift. We are geographically all over the East Coast now. We may not see each other. But since October we have shared group text messages just to say thinking of you and yesterday to share a happy Thanksgiving. Years ago when we all came home from college, we’d go back home and see each other for the long holiday weekend. And then the years took us in many different directions. And we separated. But the chance to reconnect this fall allowed us to realize that old friends, history friends are never to be taken lightly. They are precious and deserve the highest respect and caring. And dedication to stay together actual, virtual…whatever it takes. yes, life is too short for anything other than trying to stay together.
When an old college friend (well, not really old!) resurfaced this year it was truly among the greatest of gifts of the past year. Now that our families have met and connected it is clear that when our college friendship just froze 30 years ago, it was really only a pause. Timing is everything and the friends who return do so at a time that it just right for both to pick back up and be as loyal to one another as if only 30 minutes, not 30 years went by. The conversations are as easy and fun as when we shared a college living space for two years. And shared a class together and shared a ride to campus that spring to get to that class. We never know when an old friend will return. But when and if they do, we must welcome the reunion as a gift. And trust and hope that our journeys will stay parallel as we share in all that will unfold in the years to come.
Our friends buoy us up. And they listen. And we listen. We fix stuff together in life that feels off or broken. Friends are dedicated and can be relied on. A friendship is about sharing what’s on our minds and not being nervous, embarrassed or afraid. We feel lighter after an exchange. We feel cared for and understood. And even when misunderstood the friendship itself is enough to keep the bond strong. Not all friendships fit this description. Only the most real friendships, the ones that are never in doubt no matter what, are the ones that can truly be called blessings. And become among the blessings that we are most thankful for…on Thanksgiving and on all the days in between.