Tuesday, July 5, 2011

"Discard Not An Old Friend"

For the Fourth of July our family invited our "God Family" over. We have spent more than a dozen Fourth of July celebrations with this family. Yesterday was a beautiful reminder that the love of old friends is richer than the love of new friends, much as married love is far more beautiful than young love or a passing infatuation. As Ben sirach, the Jewish scribe, tells us: "Discard not an old friend, for the new one cannot equal him. A new friend is like new wine which you drink with pleasure only when it has aged."

The father, J., is our younger son's Godfather and so we have always called their four daughters their "Godcousins." Not until our sons were about 8 years old did either of them realize this family was not "really" our family in terms of being blood relations. (As an aside, I don't like it when adults have their children call every other adult in their lives "aunt" or "uncle" because I think it minimizes the role that aunt and uncles can play.)

In this case, the monikers of "Godfather" "Auxilary Godmother" and "God Cousins" make sense because the bonds we have forged over time are possible through our shared relationship with Christ Himself. We chose our sons' godparents carefully and we vowed we would do our best to nurture the relationships over distance and time. My husband and I grew up in an era when Catholic parents, or at least our Catholic parents, didn't put a lot of thought into who their children's godparents were and we always have regretted this loss.

We first met J and J before any of us were parents - nearly 20 years ago. My husband worked with J. and when I met the couple, I felt instantly comfortable with them. I remember tearing up at that first meeting, talking about how we had lost a baby in utero. It somehow didn't feel odd to be sharing something so intimate with people I just had met.

Now we have six children between us, and nearly two decades of joys, heartaches, worries and celebrations that we have shared. It is a privilege to watch all the children blossom. From the oldest, 15, who was running a 5K in Vermont this weekend, to the youngest, four years old with bangs and a sailor dress.

While she hadn't visited in many months, R. immediately asked if we still had our big wooden train set. Indeed, we do. So our nearly 15-year-old boy-turning-man and this little girl sat on our family room floor and played with the trains. How beautiful. "

Later, in the backyard as we ate s'mores, my girlfriend J. recalled attending our oldest's second birthday party in that very same backyard.  We told each other our stories and the husband gave us tips on painting the exterior of our house and on chasing away the woodchuck that has taken residence under the peach tree. How lovely to be blessed, as Simon and Garfunkel tell us, with old friends. 

"Can you see how I've gwowed?" R. asked me when they were leaving.


  1. I have the distinct pleasure of being godmother to a now-19 year old woman, but I'm close to her younger sister as well. I'm "Auntie Shannon" to them, a rare treat since I have so little interaction with my own nieces and nephews.

    More than that role, though, is the friendship I cherish with the adults. I'm not just friends with the wife, but with the husband and the girls. When I call or visit their house, I can talk with whoever answers the phone. I'm part of Christmas Eve dinner, to the point of writing the letters from Santa last year.

    I have so appreciated the gift of marriage that welcomes others in. And since they just celebrated joint birthdays this weekend, it's a good occasion to celebrate.

    And speaking of long friendships, my grandparents and another couple around the corner from them went out to dinner and played cards together for years. Both couples were married more than 60 years. I know they didn't have the kinds of conversations you have had with your friends, Allison, but I do know the longevity of it all was a gift.

  2. Shannon: This is wonderful, what you describe. What a delicious friendship and yes, a gift....

  3. How special this relationship must be to you. Long friendships are so precious and dear. I loved the description of your son and R. playing with the train set together. Beautiful, indeed.

    Thanks so much for linking up.

  4. I, too, think it is a shame when Godparents are so casually selected. It is a role, not just a title and excuse for cake. How sweet that you felt a connection to J right from the beginning, and that it was completely accurate.
    Came from TL&TLB.