Do you remember when you first found your true friend group? Remember that time when you could completely be yourself, share belly laughs and feel totally accepted? I can remember several times in my life when it was simply “right.”
My freshman year in the college dorms with my dear friends Derek, Trey and Norm.
My junior and senior year in college when Tracy, Suzanne and I were the inseparable trio.
My dear friends Andrea and Elizabeth who got me through some of the darkest days just before the divorce and for all the years that followed with Andrea.
The amazing fun nights, serious talks and so many lunches, shopping trips and glasses of wine with Holly, my dear sweet friend for life.
And now, my sweet dinner club.
They say there is a season for everything, including friends. Some friends are there for a reason. Sometimes you need their help; sometimes they need yours. Some friends are there for season. They make your life brighter, more wonderful or help you through a difficult season and vise versa. Then there are the friends for life: those that come for a season and stay. I have several of those friends for life and I am so grateful for them.
My dinner club is a group that I think has staying power . I’ve longed for this group and God has provided. It’s not surprising that I wanted this for my children and myself. I saw examples of it my whole life.
As a child, I remember my grandparents sitting around a circle, sipping high balls in those ugly, plastic, half-circle chairs up at Lake Erie. They laughed and laughed. I’d hop from lap to lap, taking tiny sips of the watered down drinks, listening to their conversation flowing over me. They’d play cards in the living room long past my bedtime, with penny antes and poker chips. I remember lying on my grandparent’s white, hobnail comforter with the white dots leaving an imprint on my cheek, peering down the hall and trying desperately to catch snippets of their fascinating and lively discussions. Laughter, love and enjoyment flowed through the home and I longed to feel connected in that way.
My parents too had a great friend group. They had dinner parties every month when I was in high school with a group of Naval Academy parents. For years, they met each month long after their children had graduated. They helped each other through illnesses, deaths, grandchildren and moves.
For many years following the divorce, my strong network of girlfriends filled my empty hours. We’d get together once a month, eat great food, dance, sing and drink lots of wine. It was harmless. It was fun. It was therapeutic. I still have great girls’ nights. The group has shifted, some have come and gone, but the underlying focus is the same: women supporting women in a loving space. It doesn’t matter what we do, who is there or the season in our lives; we come together and celebrate each other. Sometimes the nights are loud. Sometimes quiet. Sometimes we laugh until our sides hurt. Sometimes we cry with each other. Regardless, it’s special.
As my life has shifted, so, too, have my needs. Now, my focus is on a family dinner club. Some of my dearest friends are a part of the group: Monica, Susan and Kathy, AND their sweet spouses and children. It’s truly remarkable. We are all finally at a point in our lives when we can enjoy a night together with our children and each other. We aren’t chasing the kids around the house, changing diapers or entertaining them. We don’t have to get home in time for bed and shockingly, we hardly see the children all night. They are busy running around, playing games, laughing and creating their own memories.
And so we sit around an island eating appetizers while the main dish is prepared. We laugh, talk and hug. We share stories and adventures. At the end of the night, my sides ache from laughter. My cheeks are sore from smiling. My heart is full and I eagerly await our next get together.
Each of these dear families is from church. I had a need. God provided abundantly. Every time we leave, the children remark what a great time they had. They ooze with excitement and contentment. Their cup is overflowing. It’s really quite remarkable.
Each a family of four, except mine of course. Although, one family has a son that’s launched, brining our total each time to 14. The children are all about the same ages – four, 7th graders, two, 9th graders and one, 10th grader. All are very close. They pull for each other, support each other and stick up for each other at school. My son’s experiences provide insight for Susan as her daughter enters the same path as my son, filled with engineering, advanced math and science. Monica’s daughter provides insights for mine, with arts, writing and reflection. The twins just joined Susan’s son and my daughter at school and share in lunch, arts and whatever life brings their way. Everyone is enjoying the close-knit friend group at school.
More than anything, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for this friendship. I’m grateful for the support. I’m grateful for solid, Christian friendships. I’m grateful for the close-knit friend group for our children. I’m simply grateful. We’ve found our niche and these are friends for life.