I am grateful for old friends. Those are the ones that have known you the longest. Those friends know about your flaws and have loved you all these years anyhow. They realize that you have made mistakes; they realize you have a life that is busy and doesn't always involve them; they also realize that, when they really need you, you will be there for them. I am so grateful for these friends.
I've found newer friendships to be more tricky. There seems to be a lot of judgment and expectation attached to them. As adults, we've developed life experiences that affect how we interact. We are caught up in situations that affect who we let in, who we relate to or click with, and how we react to things.
What I've realized is this: we all (and I SO include myself in this) need to stop and give each other the benefit of the doubt. Instead of assuming that someone is not a good friend because they (fill in the blank: skipped your party/dinner/event, couldn't help you with (whatever), or didn't agree with what you said/did/wrote), assume that they are in a different place in life than you are, and are devoting their energies in that direction. Assume that their current situation in life is different than yours (of course it is!), and that their take on life is obviously colored by that situation. Assume that they care, and they need you to care. Give them the benefit of the doubt that they are putting one foot in front of the other on their journey, a journey that is often difficult, and that sometimes your paths will cross. When they do, smile, say hello, and ask, "How are you?" And when they answer, listen to them. Don't move on to talk about your life, your angst, your joys. Listen to theirs. They will truly be grateful.
So, this is my Thanksgiving promise to myself: I will give people around me the benefit of the doubt that they truly do have the best of intentions, and I will do more listening and less judging.
I'm off tomorrow to spend Thanksgiving with an old and dear friend. It will be so good to be myself around her, and to know that all the years will melt away as we reconnect, laugh, and nourish each other. For this I'm very thankful.