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PLANT A SEED OF FRIENDSHIP, REAP A BOUQUET OF HAPPINESS*
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
 calm
mood: calm


Comments

Here's to long term commitments with our women friends!! To be in each others lives through good and bad, (richer/poorer, in in health and in ....)
It rocks to have a group of strong women who listen, support you, and welcome support.
Go Wonders!

Yes! Amen, sister!

From Megsie

What a wonderful tribute to your friends, and what a lovely group to be a part of. My high school friends used to try to get together once a month, but since Nichole died, we haven't as often. It is hard because then you feel the loss a bit more. My college friends also do the once a month lunch but since I have started working, we haven't. This is a great reminder to get some dates on the calendar. Friendship is too important to ignore!

Re: From Megsie

I completely agree. I wish I had time to do this with all the groups of people I would like to keep contact with in my life.

I think once a month is actually too much and too hard to keep up. It really seems to work for us, trying to schedule about every two or three months. We all feel like we have always have some news to share and the conversations NEVER lags :)

Liz that is so great! I remember when you started up and were wondering what you should all call your group. hehe I'm so happy for you all that you've kept it up and that it's become something so special and important for all of you. :)

5 years has just FLOWN by! Angie is still referring to the Wonderbras, but the rest of us just roll our eyes at her! :D

This is a truly lovely account!

They're truly lovely people :)

what a lovely, lovely custom...and what a lovely anchoring gesture to honor that commitment for so many years...

I think the guys got a completely new perspective on our dinners, too :)

You're a lucky person.

I know :)

(Anonymous)

How wonderful!! There is nothing that can compare to the support of friends. How great to have this group of people in your life!

Loved reading this post. :)

Mia

http://mias.blogg.se

I'm truly blessed to have so MANY great friends in my life :) I count you among them, even if we've never met, Mia!

What a great way to help your roots grow in a new place without letting go of where you have been. If there was an expat-manual, this would be under "Ten must-do's in your first years abroad". I am curious - are you the only nomad/army-brat in the group or is chronic displacement something that brought you all together?

I'm the only one in the group, though another of our first friends, who has since moved back to the States, was also a military brat. In the AWC in general, there actually aren't that many brats...I think I've only met a few in all the years and all the members we've had.

(Anonymous)
From Willow

Totally inspiring, especially when I think there's a good chance I'll live in Spain one day, and be seeking this kind of friendship anchor for myself. Thank you!

Re: From Willow

Yay for another expat! :) I know there are AWC and other expat clubs in Spain, as well :)

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