"I challenge us all not to only remember our families this holiday season, but don’t forget to take a moment out to celebrate your friends," says columnist Nathan Hale Williams.
For the first time in the 19 years since I left Chicago, I’m unable to go home due to a hectic work schedule. Needless to say, I was bummed about breaking my long-standing tradition, but grateful to be working in these difficult times. For me, Thanksgiving is not just about family and eating; it’s the time I catch up with my friends. Thankfully, my best friend Danielle is not going home to Chicago either and lives nearby in New Jersey, so I will spend the day with her family, which I considered mine too.
Each Thanksgiving, I’m especially grateful for the enduring friendships that I have established and enjoy. Yes, I love my family and usually spend the first part of the day with them. However, I really look forward to traveling to my other BFF Andrea’s house, where all of us get together to play cards, drink Sangria, laugh, and of course, eat some more. As an only child, my friends are truly the only brothers and sisters I have, and I cherish them more and more each year.
As you get older, people will come in and out of your life. Over the past two years, I have lost a handful of friends, which was something new for me. At first, it was very difficult and I took it really hard. As they say, time heals all wounds and I decided to focus on the great and long lasting relationships that remain strong. Everyone isn’t supposed to stay in your life forever, nor should they. But, the ones that do should be celebrated every chance you get and what better time than during Thanksgiving and the holidays.
One thing I have learned to be true is that in order to have good friends, you have to be a good friend. In my definition, it is about mutual respect, admiration and acceptance – all of which I’ve enjoyed for 36 years with my closest friends. To think that I’ve known them that long is unbelievable, and I’m grateful for their presence in my life. I constantly remind myself to let them know what they mean to me and to thank them for being a friend.
Sharing laughs and reminiscing about stories of the past is really my favorite part of the holiday season. It is the time we take a pause from our busy lives to enjoy the company of our loved ones. So, this Thanksgiving, I’m challenging myself to do something I’ve never done before. I’m going to write all of my friends letters and let them know how much I love them. Not an e-mail, a text or a Facebook post, but an actual old-fashioned letter. We’ve long stopped exchanging gifts because the focus is on the kids, but I couldn’t think of a better gift to give.
I challenge us all not to only remember our families this holiday season, but don’t forget to take a moment out to celebrate your friends. I always sing this to my friends: “If you threw a party, invited everyone you knew, you would see the biggest gift would be from me, and the card attached would say, ‘Thank you for Being A Friend.” What ways will you celebrate your friends this holiday season?
Wishing you love and ceaseless joy! Follow @NathanHWilliams on Twitter.
Nathan’s book INSPIRATION: Profiles of Black Women Changing Our World is available now.