Week 2 Autumn Traditions
Day 13 Enjoying Your Friends and Family
Count your garden by the flowers,
Never by the leaves that fall,
Count your days by the golden hours;
Don’t remember clouds at all.
Count your nights by stars,
Count your years with smiles,
Count your blessings,
not your troubles.
Count your age by friends,
~ author unkown ~
I always find it interesting that as parents we tell our kids that nothing is more important in life, than the people that God puts in it…but then we go about our lives and rarely demonstrate our belief in that statement.
If we truly believed it, wouldn’t we would spend more “real” time with those very people already in our lives? Wouldn’t we would make a point to not let our days get away from us, and actually spend quality and quantity time with them? Not only this, but do demonstrate how to give true value to people in our example? When we are with friends and family are we fully present in the moment, or are we in a rush? Distracted? Self-centred?
If I were to take a look at my own life, I’d say I really want to work on this. When I’m with these people that I really do treasure… I want them to know it, beyond a shadow of a doubt. I want their lives to be BETTER because I’m in it. How can I do that?
1. I can Slow Down. I can whittle away the things in my life that make it go by too quickly. Too many expectations on what I need to have done every day. The house does not need to be immaculately clean. Tidy is fine. Every phone call/ email, etc does not need to be made today.
2. I can Schedule Less activities that do not nurture relationships. Most people/ families struggle with this. There’s a constant barrage of meetings and activities fighting for our time, including those of our children. I frequently look at my calendar and if I’ve got more than 3 nights of ongoing activities on there, I start to slash. No regrets, it must be done. You need to have at least 4 nights of “nothing” in order to have room for people. If I do decide to commit to an activity, I want to make sure there’s a beginning an end time to it. When the 3 months (or whatever) is passed, I can make sure I give it a few months before I repeat the committment, and in those months off- reconnect with people.
3. I can See People. I mean really “notice” them. Not just the obvious, like a new hairdo. but the subtle things that are showing, but seldom noticed or discussed. If people feel like you actually “see” them, they will open up to you. They will value your friendship because they know that they “matter” to you. How have they been lately, harried? Exhausted? Unkept or the reverse, suddenly taking more time to dress/ do their hair? Are they finally out of the “newborn” at home= no sleep stage? Is his hair thinning? Maybe he’s become insecure about it and needs a confidence boost. What makes their eyes light up? Do they have a new grandchild they’re over the moon about? Is a loved one ill and they’re the primary care giver? Sometimes we miss all kinds of things, because we don’t see the signs…
4.I can Really Listen. Similar to point 3, a lot of times we’re missing simple clues and hints that others are sharing because we are not really “listening”. We’re formulating what we want to say in our head and not really digesting what we’re hearing. There’s also the added element of picking up the tone in what they are sharing too. Are they telling you the same thing over and over? Ask yourself why – maybe the topic is something they are having a hard time dealing with and are “asking” for help towards closure. Or maybe they sense you aren’t really listening and so think you need to hear it again. It’s obviously important to them, so if they are important to you…listen.
5.I can Share. To do this right, it takes courage. If I am really interested (and I am) in a “real” relationship, where there are no pretences, then I just gotta do it. Know who you I am (and I do), what matters to me and be true to it. When you love yourself you know that the love that you have to give is a treasure and worth the time and faith of sharing it. I can share my time, my hearts and my soul. My gifts are the dreams, the inspirations, the Life inside me because of Jesus. I don’t think there’s any other way…
There is something to be said of true friendship.
It opens up pathways in your soul – your mind, will and emotions
It releases the floodgates of inspiration in your heart
It is a healing balm
It can be found in your flesh and blood family or outside it.
It is not limited by generations (and in fact is almost enriched by it)
It makes you grow, nourishes you
It brings great joy and depth, comfort, peace and hope.
I have read the Anne of Green Gables series almost every year since I was about 13, and one of my favourite parts of the series is the heroine Anne’s friendship with Diana Barry (among many others). Anytime she talked about “kindred spirits” or the “Race that knows Joseph” my heart give me a little nudge to “listen up”.
“True friends are always together in spirit. (Anne Shirley)”
“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
“Yes. Cornelia divides all the folks in the world into two kinds– the race that knows Joseph and the race that don’t. If a person sorter sees eye to eye with you, and has pretty much the same ideas about things, and the same taste in jokes–why, then he belongs to the race that knows Joseph.”
I love reading about this fictional friendship that endured through the ups and downs of life. Of misunderstandings, of sorrows, of time, of distance, marriage and families. It fuels my faith in trying to nourish my own garden of friendships. I believe it’s possible for us to have the same kind of treasured friendships as the characters in these novels when we build them on a mutual acceptance of each other for who we are and a genuine affection for them. When we live a life that embraces LM Montgomery’s ideal…
“I’d like to add some beauty to life,” said Anne dreamily. “I don’t exactly want to make people KNOW more… though I know that IS the noblest ambition… but I’d love to make them have a pleasanter time because of me… to have some little joy or happy thought that would never have existed if I hadn’t been born.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne’s House of Dreams
The fall is a wonderful time to re-connect with friends. to sit long on a porch swing at dusk over coffee, to visit a park while the kids play in the last of the lovely weather. To sit at the table after dinner, awhile longer and visit. To play a couple hand of cards or scrabble. To take a walk in the brisk air with the leaves crunching underfoot. Write a letter, pick up the phone. We can all do, and make our lives as rich as the colours that surround us this time of year.