February 12th, 2011



Last night we had the 5th anniversary of the beginning of our Wonders dinners together, my friends and I. Debbie was the one who thought of it; she wanted a mentor group of friends that were all living and staying here in Sweden to be a unit where we could help each other, support each other, be there for each other. She asked us each individually to be a part of the group: Angie, Kelly, Emily and me.

We were friends before, all of us, for several years, and this was partly a way of finding our way back to each other as well, as over time we had all become busy, had children, grown apart, moved physically further away from each other, seen each other socially less and less. Jobs and kids and houses and activities and time pushing us apart and widening the cracks.

For 5 years we've taken turns hosting dinners for each other. In that 5 years there have only been a handful of times when one of us couldn't make it to the designated evening. Each time we have the dinners, every 2-3 months, the 4 guests bring a small gift for the hostess, and this little tradition has also become a fun and anticipated part of the event. We all have fun picking out something that fits the hostess perfectly and enjoying the reaction when our gift is opened.

All of us are North Americans, married to Swedes. All of us have been here for a long time and are here long-term. When I met Angie, she had already been in Sweden for 8 years, and I've been here 14 now. Kelly has been here since 1988, Emily since 2 years before me; Debbie arrived the year after.

The year before she invited us all to form this dinner club, Debbie had taken her 3 children and moved back to Canada for a school year. She wanted her kids to experience at least one year of a childhood in her home country. She hadn't been back herself for 17 years, since she had moved around a great deal as an adult and she and her husband had lived in the US, the UK and Norway before moving to Sweden. While she was there, each time one of her kids said they missed something from home, she urged them to not worry about the things waiting for them at home in Sweden, because they only had this one year to enjoy all the things about life in Canada. All the things back home would be there when they got back. But she realized, after the year was over, and life had begun to resume its normal routine, that it hadn't been true for her. She didn't feel like she had anything waiting for her here in Sweden (apart from her family) that could help anchor her.

Last night, we celebrated our 5-year anniversary of Wonders dinners, but what we really celebrated was a commitment to each other. To be friends, to stay friends, and to be able to count on each other. Even if some of us rarely get together outside of these dinners. Even if life keeps pulling us in different directions. We've gone through marital crises, health crises, job changes, parenting problems and all the other possible combinations of joys and sorrows that friendship can encompass.

We invited our husbands along this time to join in our celebration; they've all known each other as long as we have and enjoy each other's company on the all too-rare occasions they get to see each other, too.

Because it was Valentine's weekend, Debbie had decorated with hearts and pink and red candles and served a delicious apértif involving frozen crushed watermelon. We all dressed up, and we all contributed to the meal, which was fantastic: Turkey breasts with a mushroom cream sauce, hasselback potatoes, a huge salad full of yummy stuff, and a double-layer red velvet cake frosted with hearts and glitter. And we joked and laughed and reminisced and hugged and Kelly made a speech that had us all in tears. I'm looking forward to the next 5 years of dates with these women, these friends, these incredibly important people that mean so much to me, and the 5 after that. And all the rest as well.

Brilliant Sparkling Belated Birthday Wishes to another incredibly important person in my life: the incomparable Mystic Vixen!

*Title from a quote by Lois Kaufman