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The power of friendships

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I had four close girlfriends in high school. As sometimes happens, one drifted out of our circle even before we reached commencement day.

The other three and I remained fairly close friends for many years.

Through the wonders of social media – Facebook in particular – I still keep tabs on my oldest friend – we’ve know each other since the third grade –  who’s lived out of state since we all graduated from college.

My other two friends live closer, but as often happens, our connection has been reduced in the past few years to exchanging birthday, anniversary and Christmas cards. Family and health concerns – among other life challenges – can do that.

I can remember a time, though, when we got together often, especially at the holidays, to catch up with what was going on in our lives and families. Spouses and children were a part of those gatherings. Sometimes they took place at one of out homes; others we gathered at a restaurant.

Some years one of us had to bow out for one reason or another.

Those annual gatherings started to sputter, and at last died out a few years back.

I’ll admit, I miss them.

I think that’s why I marveled a bit at the tale spun for me by a more recent friend, who shared that she and her four girlfriends from high school had been gathering on Christmas Eve for more than 50 years.

It made me think about the power of friendship, and how some seem to endure while others blaze brightly and then wink out.

Her story brought to mind a phrase I’d once heard about friends – that they come into your life for a season, a reason or a lifetime.

For these five women, I’d say it is a lifetime.

As my friend said of the quintet: “We are all family. We have been bridesmaids, godparents – the girls are all known as ‘mothers’ to all the other kids, and we are sisters in every sense of the word - each other’s ‘go to’ for everything.”

She laughed when she told me the group still gets together for girls-night sleepovers, and one of the group has even unearthed the notes they passed while in high school, which they were planning to laugh over at their next gathering.

It’s the kind of connection I admire, and in a way, envy. I wonder if our social media-connected kids and grandkids will ever experience that kind of rich, personal belonging.

If you are lucky enough to have lifelong friends, cherish them.

Wishing you and yours happy holidays, and thanks for reading.

Debbie Gardner