Heather Hamilton-Maude: Gifts
True, lasting and deep friendships are a rare gift in life. For Christmas, my husband wrote me a letter telling me to go see one of my best friends who lives in eastern Colorado. He included some spending cash, said he would keep the kids, and that I could be gone as long as I wanted, but to be home within seven days of leaving.
It had been five years since my friend and I had seen each other and, while I was nearly brought to tears by his gesture, this had been mentioned before. There was always a blizzard, sick kid, breakdown, etc… that brought it to a standstill. Even scheduling brief get togethers with another great friend on the way to my parent’s house has become iffy due to everything we both have going on.
But, my husband persisted that she and I get it scheduled, so we did, and it all came together perfectly.
I don’t know that either of us realized just how much we needed the three days of non-stop talking in between helping her father rebuild corrals and making a trip to town for lunch and errands. The trip itself was nothing special in terms of a vacation. But, it was unforgettable in terms of what it provided each of us.
We both had a chance to just be ourselves. All the weights in our lives were lifted as we discussed and solved world and personal problems. Our gratefulness for our husbands was manifested as we rehashed old flames. The Lord filled our cups through our fellowship with one another.
This stage of life seems to make it difficult to maintain meaningful face-to-face friendships. In my case, two toddlers mean phone conversations lasting more than three-five minutes are generally accompanied by background noise that must sound like someone is dying, based on people’s concerned questions. If we are invited to another couple or family’s house for dinner or an event, one or both kids are sick. Every. Single. Time.
My friend cares for her mother, who has advanced Multiple Sclerosis, in addition to farming and ranching with both her father and her husband. She took her grandmother to 22 doctor’s appointments in six weeks last spring after she had a stroke.
That’s life. That’s the all-in investment we both willingly chose, and it’s worth it. But, it’s also tough at times, and this fall I told my husband I was struggling with feeling friendless. I know a lot of exceptional people, and many are friends, but I rarely have the opportunity to strike up a conversation that extends beyond the weather and casual pleasantries. Even if I were to have time to meet and truly visit, my capacity of topics is narrowly focused on my children and our occupation at the moment.
But, his thought-filled gift filled that void. Sending me to someone I’ve known for 15 years meant our list of conversational topics never ran dry. While he will say he isn’t a good gift giver, I think a lot of people, myself included, could learn a lot from his approach. It was a truly memorable Christmas gift I will forever treasure.