I’ve been meaning to write a post about friendships for at least six months now. If you love travel or if you’re an emigrant then your life can be bittersweet when it comes to friends and family, especially around Xmas time. Whilst my life is blessed with a variety of friends I never could have dreamed of when I was younger, from so many different countries and backgrounds, and I’ve learned so much from them; one of the biggest lessons being that everyone has a story, and there are many, different ways of telling the story, of living, or looking at life, the important thing is to listen to the stories, and to let go our preconceptions, even if only for a short time until we absorb other ways of being.
At the same time, there are, inevitably more goodbyes than the average person makes. It’s a good thing when they happen to remember the Buddist teaching that we must accept that nothing lasts forever. It’s one of life’s more difficult lessons, sometimes it seems impossible to accept, but it’s a fundamental truth. I’ve been especially blessed the last few years with a particular, lovely group of friends here in Tenerife, and I have a whole headful of memories of hikes, barbecues, birthdays, brunches, festivals and laughter to draw on when I’m alone.
As I write one of them is already off traveling, and when she returns to the island I will hopefully be traveling myself, so I don’t know for sure when our paths may cross again – but I am totally sure that they will. I believe that we are, simply, destined to meet and keep meeting some people. Another friend has returned to live in her own country for a while, whilst she brings up her young son, and I’m quite sure our paths will cross again too. In the meantime, thank the gods for the internet, which keeps us all in touch, and which even extends our friendships – I also have friends I have yet to meet in the flesh!
And then there are the renewals of friendships when we return to places. I went back to the Fylde Coast of Lancashire, England this year for the first time in many a year, and caught up with old friends with whom I went through marriages, births, growing up, divorces, traumas and much joy over the early years of my life, and there is nothing quite like the warm glow that brings, nor that odd sensation of surroundings being familiar yet strange. And there was the sheer delight of getting to know my goddaughter’s young children…..the next generation of course.
It’s a given that everything said extends even more so to family. Mine isn’t large, and in the last 12 years we’ve only managed one Christmas together. That doesn’t mean that in our hearts we aren’t together. When you like to travel you carry family and friends with you, not just the photos in your wallet, but that warm glow or that lump in your throat when you think of them. The times you are together are that much sweeter and packed with goodness.
And so at Christmas time, friends – old, new and yet-to-meet – I wish you all the happiness and fun of the festive season, whatever your personal beliefs, because there seems to be something for everybody who is willing to listen at this time of year these days. I don’t resent the dwindling of the “Happy Christmas” greeting, because “Happy Holidays” embraces all.