During the past couple years, I’ve had several opportunities to crossover friends and family groups, being included as a friend in a family not my own or being included in my family’s friend groups. It’s something I’ve experienced before, but I’ve noticed it more in the past couple years. As my ex left our marriage, many of my family and friend relationships deepened. Plus, my girls are now adults with their own friends, coworkers, etc., so their social circles are widening and deepening. I love getting to know their friends. It gives me more insight into and appreciation for who they are becoming. I also appreciate getting to know my friends’ families. Seeing the dynamics and hearing stories helps me know them better, which helps strengthen the bonds we have to each other.
Especially around the holidays, families get together as a habit or tradition, but sometimes friends are as close as some family members, and our celebrations get richer because we set aside walls between the different areas of our lives. We welcome more people. We let friends and family crossover, and while the dynamics might be a bit more complicated, our experiences are often richer because of the diversity.
I recently went to my oldest daughter’s Friendsgiving. Other than me and one other mom, everyone was in their mid to late twenties. I enjoyed how different some of the conversations were compared to other groups I hang out with at times. The structure was a bit different. The food was a little different. But so much was similar. There was a lot of laughter. There were always multiple conversations going on at once. There was memory-sharing and memory-making. There were connections.
I don’t know how long these particular friends will get together, especially since many of them are finishing up law school. I won’t see them often, especially in a large group. Because I had spent some time with many of them during wedding festivities in recent months, I was familiar with many of them, but odds are I won’t get much deeper in my relationships with them. But I appreciate the time I got to spend with them on that Sunday afternoon. I stood back and watched my daughter engage with her friends. I jumped in with conversation and jokes. I helped in the kitchen at times and got out of the way at times. I savored tidbits of conversations about a variety of topics. I enjoyed hearing perspectives other than my own.
I was thankful my daughter and her husband included me.
I think we all had a good day. It was great to widen our circles of how we interact. Our relationships deepened because they opened up their home and were willing to include me even though I didn’t fit into their typical friend group.
Let your families and friends intermingle at times. Maybe you’re concerned about how some people will interact with others or what they’ll share about you that will make you uncomfortable. The more able and willing you are to live authentically across a variety of groups, the more people will get to know you and the more you will understand and appreciate others.