Sensational Sixty

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Archive for the category “Friendship”

Friendship

friends

Friends have always been somewhat elusive for me.  As far back as I remember, I usually befriended one person of a group, belonging to the group in a sort of hanging-on way, if you know what I mean.  Not really a member of the “inside circle” but welcome enough to participate in group activities.  Part of this was my innate shyness and the fact that I lived out in the country and didn’t always have access to the get together.

First married, my husband and I didn’t have a large social circle and didn’t feel any lack.  Then came the “family” years, where all your acquaintances came from your children’s activities and, with working full-time jobs, we didn’t have time to make anything other than work friends.  (There was no one advocating “date nights” back then!)  Sure, we had “couples” friends that we vacationed with, but that was about it.

The kids went on to their own pursuits and I finally felt free from the guilt I always had about working.  Work took up more and more time and  down time was usually spent with a group of girlfriends from work.  Once I moved and no longer worked, they, for the most part, faded away.  I worried about how I was going  to meet people without a job, but was content puttering at home with all the projects I had put off until I had time.  Fortunately, we moved into a house next door to a very friendly couple.  Through them, we joined a small group of people and that served as our primary source of friends.

Years passed , the husbands petered out and some of us women began travelling together.  These women are the base of my friendships today.  We know each other well, support each other when necessary and have a good time together.

I picked up a book called MWF Seeking BFF  My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend, by Rachel Bertsche primarily because it had a catchy name.  But I’ve been wanting to enlarge my small social circle, feeling the need to be connected with more people.  My current friends are very dear, but they are all up to 15 years older than me (not that they ACT it!).  We may move in the future and I need to know how to make new friends wherever we end up.  Social circles can and do get smaller, whether by falling-outs, death or moving. I just needed some help in figuring out what to do.

The book was a great help.  Although her story is quite different from mine – she’s got a large circle of friends, both near and far, but wanted to find someone in her current city with whom she felt comfortable making last-minute plans – I learned a LOT.   And, while her method – 52 “girl-dates” in one year – did not appeal to me, there is actually a science behind making friends and doing certain things increases your chances of turning a stranger into a friend.

And so friendship becomes another area in which I will attempt an improvement.  Next time, I’ll summarize the important points that I got out of the book and tell you about my plans and attempts to make new friends.

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Assume Love in All Things

Patty Newbold, a widow who got it right the second time, writes a fantastic blog called Assume Love.  She writes about marriage, but I feel some of her subjects can apply to all people in our lives with just a little tweaking.  With your husband or significant other, assume love in all he does.  With a friend, assume good will.  With a store clerk, assume the last customer was really rude and be nicer.  With a bad driver an, assume he’s just having a bad day.

In other words, give people the benefit of the doubt!  Most people are not out to hurt or make you mad on purpose.  Life sometimes gets in the way. Turn the other cheek and do what you can to make their day better.  I guarantee it will make your life better.

But if you are having relationship issues, be sure to hop over to Patty’s site and browse around.  I’ve found her advice to be very helpful in my pursuit to make my marriage happier.

Holidays

With the passing of Halloween, the holidays are upon us.  I have struggled over the last few years with feelings of nostalgia and sadness starting with Thanksgiving and continuing, especially, through Christmas.

You see, in our family,  we had strong traditions that defined the holidays for us. Being in the military, our Thanksgiving table was always populated with the four of us and others that didn’t have any family nearby or place to go.  The menu was the same every year – turkey with cornbread stuffing (baked in the pan because you know a turkey doesn’t have room for enough!), mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, corn casserole, that awful green bean casserole (you know the one, with French’s crispy onions on top :)), rolls, relish trays, pumpkin pies, etc, etc, etc.  We had to go around the table, telling everyone what we were most thankful for, ate waaaaay too much and “watched” football while trying not to show some of us were napping at the same time.

Christmas was an even bigger deal.  House decorating began the day after Thanksgiving.  (No stinking’ Black Friday shopping here!)  I decorated every public room in the house, to include the powder room.  And hubby was responsible for the outside lighting.  On cold years, he would try to get the lights up before Thanksgiving (no fear, not to be turned on until the day AFTER Thanksgiving!)

Choosing the tree was always an all day affair.  The four of us would traipse from Christmas tree lot to Christmas tree lot, searching for the perfectly shaped and sized tree to decorate.  Once all four of us finally decided on one, off we’d go home to pull out the tree ornaments.  Every ornament in our box has a story behind it and we had a lot of fun retelling each and every story as each ornament was hung and re-hung.  Remember decorating with little children?  The ornaments would always be bunched up down low in one spot and would have to be redistributed when we were done.

Christmas Eve would be a simple supper, then bundled up into the car to drive around the neighborhood, looking at all the lights.  One year, our youngest (he was about 4 at the time) saw “Santa Claus” in the garage of someone’s house.  It was so funny, he hurried into the floorboard of the front seat (this was before seat belts and car seats were mandatory!) and said  “We have to go home and get to bed or Santa won’t stop at our house!”

We didn’t indulge our boys with many toys or treats during the year but, come Christmas, we did because we could, I guess.  When the children were younger, the day usually began around 5:00 am.  After the coffee was on and we had our eyes mostly open, the kids were allowed to come in and the present unwrapping began.  The rule was that only one person could open a gift at a time, so sometimes our unwrapping lasted until noon!

Then, every year, we had home-baked cinnamon rolls and fresh squeezed orange juice made from the oranges one set of grandparents sent from Florida as a family present.  This sufficed for breakfast and held us over until I loaded the table with  the hors d’oeuvres buffet that became our tradition after I finally realized that I was spending the whole day cooking a meal that no one really ate, thanks to all the candy that Santa stuffed in our stockings!  Then, Christmas night meant open house for pie and coffee with whatever neighbors happened to drop by.

Anyway, the traditions continued in the same manner every year, even when the boys were teenagers and to this day when they can come home with their wives.  But they all live in Oregon and we live in Colorado, so most years it’s just me and the hubby around the holidays.  And, IT’S NOT THE SAME!    And since the possibilty of grandchildren any time  in the near or distant future is slim to none, I don’t expect it will EVER be the same again.  So, a couple of years ago, I decided that since it wasn’t the same, we wouldn’t do any of the holiday stuff (you know it’s a lot of WORK) and treat Thanksgiving and Christmas days as just another day.

BIG MISTAKE! Did you see that coming?

We were usually invited somewhere for Thanksgiving dinner, so the impact on that holiday wasn’t to hard to take, especially since there were usually leftovers to take home with us.  But Christmas was another story.  For the record, my husband loves to give gifts!  And he’s really pretty good at listening for clues and picking out personal gifts that hit the mark just right.  Since I had also  decided that we wouldn’t “waste money” on gifts we didn’t really need, he was like a poor fish out of water!

Fast forward to this year and my pledge to examine every aspect of my life for the “third act.”  I did a bit of research and learned about nostalgia. Nostalgia is defined as a sentimental longing for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations.  Originally, this was determined to be an actual physical ailment observed in soldiers away from home for the first time.  By the mid 1800s, however, this “homesickness” came to be classified as an emotional condition and interest in it as a physical ailment declined although soldiers in wars as late at WWII were still being diagnosed with nostalgia.  Now days, nostalgia is identified as something that can be triggered by a feeling or experience from one’s past and can invoke a positive or negative feeling.

Generally, nostalgia can hit a person any time there is a major change in their lives.  It can be a positive experience by giving you a sense of self-worth.   But holidays are notorious for causing people to feel nostalgic in a negative way, probably because of the sheer amount of emotion that is connected with holidays.  Traditions give us a sense of who we are and remind us that someone loves us.  We make our lives increasingly apart from extended families, the children grow up, we grow older, divorce happens – events that leave us yearning for what used to be.  Many people begin to have grandchildren at this point in their lives and are able to begin new traditions.  But what about the rest of us?

So the big question becomes “How can I be part of the holidays in a new way?”  There’s lots of advice on the internet on how to do this.  Some say shift your perspective.  Not “there’s no one to cook for” but “We can do a simple meal, with simple cleanup.”  There’s the “Consider new possiblities” viewpoint.  Not “the children are gone” but “the children aren’t here, we can do anything we want!”  And the “Give Back” movement that turns your focus outward to helping those with less.
But I’ve decided that, for me, it means bringing back some of the traditions of the past and doing new things with the hubby that will become our new traditions for this next act of our lives.  This years’ Thanksgiving was again full of food and friends.  Mom’s sweet potato casserole and Aunt Jo’s corn casserole were on the table.  (the green bean casserole, though, was conspicuously absent!)  Yes, it was a lot of work, but it was worth it to make the holiday more than just another day.  And the Christmas decorations have made their appearance again, inside and out.  I will be shopping for him, just to have a few small things wrapped and under the tree.  Come Christmas day, we’ll sleep in but we will have our rolls and juice and then I think we’ll go to a movie.

I’m going to bring back the joy of the holiday this year and all the ones to come because I’m not dead yet and joyous events are part of a life well lived.

What about you?  How have your traditions changed as you’ve gotten older?

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