If you didn't start singing that song in your head and envision Woody and Buzz from Toy Story... there's something wrong with you. Or you just never saw the movies, which is a fair excuse.
Today is (Canadian) Thanksgiving and as always, it's the only time of the year I think about what I am thankful for.. (Just kidding). This past year was a bit of a wild ride, so I've learned to count my blessings every day rather than just in October while eating turkey and all the fixin's. A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine (ya know who ya are, ya skatch) texted me with a new number because she moved .. to California, so let's all just take a moment and be jealous.. or stay with the theme of this post and be thankful that beautiful places such as Cali exist .. and it got me to thinking. Since April 1, 1990, I have set up residence in four different places: Longlac, ON; Thunder Bay, ON; Fernie, BC and finally, Winnipeg, MB. And I've made a lot of friends in the process.
Friendship, if you think about it, is so weird. When you're little, everyone is your friend. That kid in the sandbox: friend. That kid eating a stick: friend. That kid in the corner doing a time out sentence: uh, friend only at lunch when they trade you snacks cause you don't wanna play with them and get in trouble at recess. But then as you get a little older and you decide you like drawing but not dancing and soccer but not hockey, you make friends who share the same interests as you. Friends are the family you get to choose.
If we are going to start with my very first friends, the ones from Longlac, yeah, I do still talk to a few of them 20 years later. Kindergarten friends are your first ones, they pretty much teach you how to either be a good human and share or a shitty human and push a kid into the mud. Longlac is small, too, so there really weren't a lot of kids to choose from. From a first grader's perspective, I think I was able to make good choices. I moved to Thunder Bay when I was 7, so my friends and I still sent each other letters via snail mail until we graduated to the internet and MSN messenger. Obviously Facebook plays a huge role in these relationships, making it almost more difficult not to keep in touch with someone. I'll admit, I've not kept in very good touch in the past few years, but I know everyone is just a call away, and that brings a sense of comfort to me.
Thunder Bay, Thunder Bay... well, I'll admit it took a long time to adjust. My family still jokes "You gonna move back to Longlac?" I wouldn't, just for the record. It was my friends that I missed and the small town feel and just familiarity. I have a great group of friends from 'home' now that I am still super close with and can't imagine life without them, especially last year with everything with my mom. I'm proud to say that I have maintained these relationships from high school (that started in elementary and junior high) and even though I don't get home that often and everyone is scattered around now, when we are all together, it always feels like we never left. I can literally not talk to someone for ages, but when we do talk and catch up, it's like we didn't miss a beat. If that isn't true friendship, then I don't know what is. I mean, yeah, you might say "Well, you should talk more often if you're really that good of friends." But I think true friendship also means you understand and appreciate that people are busy and have lives, especially when you live a far distance from each other.
Next came university, population: like 35000 or something outrageous like that at the U of M. I moved into residence early because of training camp for soccer and got to know my teammate (we were great friends the moment we watched Blue Crush together), Jordan.. she's the one in Cali, FYI and then on move in day I met my roommate....... Kaitlyn, who I had known since grade 7 and who I was so happy wasn't some random person I had never met and might not get along with. We had a great first year FULL of memories (thanks for beating me up in the middle of UC after Wise Guys, Kaitlyn. Fave memory of us by far. Except now people think you actually beat me, sorry.) Third floor Speechly was my new home, and I know I'm not the only one who felt like we really were a family. We may have gone out every night of the week, but come weekends, we generally just laid in the lounge and watched movies. We've had floor reunions since, and I think it's time we organize a new one. Besides a few of our floor members who had been away from home already for a year or two, most of us were new to the experience and I don't think I could have asked for a better family away from my family. Aside from my floor family, I had other res friends too, and a couple from my classes, and of course my soccer family (#bisons4Life!!). It is truly amazing what we are capable of when we are taken out of our comfort zone. I'm friendly and outgoing, yes, but never in a million years did I ever expect to make some of the life long friendships that I did in university.
Growing up, my parents always had (and still do) have great friendships. They literally had a better social life than I did when I was in high school, which I think is pretty awesome. These lifelong relationships are so important, and I would be lying if I said growing up I never saw my parent's friendships as something I wanted to have too. I guess me being 24 is not the same as their 'seniority', but I am confident saying that I have friends now that I will still be laughing, crying, learning and growing (and partying!) with when we are old and grey, too.
So, this Thanksgiving, first off, I am ever so grateful for my family - those that are here with us and those that have already gone. Last year, we spent Thanksgiving in the hospital with my mom and even though she wasn't here this year, I know she was still with me and dad at the Matarazzo's. Secondly, and keeping with the point (theme?) of this blog post, I am thankful for friends. The family I have chosen, the people who I want to have around for a long time to be a part of my family. Teammates, roommates, classmates, friend of a friends.. everyone. Thank you for having a place in your hearts for me, and thank you for giving me a piece of you for mine. I know this might sound silly or weird or cheesy, but just give yourself a moment to think about your family and friends and how much you love them, rely on them, comfort them etc etc etc. They are all there for a reason.
If you've been thinking about someone you haven't talked to in a while, give them a shout. Don't forget to call your grandparents and aunts and uncles every once in a while, they're your friends too. Hug tighter, kiss longer and laugh louder. Do all those cheesy things (that I probably just copywrited from a Home Sense canvas print) when you can, as often as you can and most importantly, count your blessings every day, not just every October when you've got a turkey on the table.
PS - I'm also thankful for all y'all that read this crazy blog. It's an outlet. It brings me joy. I've always enjoyed writing without rules and this lets me do that. So thank you, thank you! GOBBLE GOBBLE