No, not the football game and dance extravaganza package that happens in the fall at every high school and college across the country.
When you go home for the holidays. Especially after your first semester of college. Are you ready for your Great Aunt Pearl to ask you if “Santa brought you what you asked for this year” (translation: “Do you have a boyfriend yet?”)?
There used to be those people in high school who would always be like “Oh my gosh, we should totally hang out sometime!” And the ones who were like “We have to hang out before we go away to college!” Or the ones who were like “We absolutely need to stay in touch!” and “I can’t wait to see you when I’m home on break!” And deep down, or not-so-very deep down, you chuckled to yourself because you knew they were empty words. Most of them had no intention of hanging out or seeing you after high school. Sure, some of them maybe meant it in the moment, but it wasn’t an everlasting promise that they meant to keep.
It’s absolutely true that when you go away to college you find out who your true friends are and who truly loves you. These are the people who mean those things that I just listed above. And not only do they mean them, but they actually do them. And if you’re not able to see them, it’s certainly not due to lack of trying. The truth of the matter is, the people that really want to see you and really want to be with you will do so.
This goes for while at home and while you’re away. Because the people who want to be in your life will keep in contact with you while you’re away and be waiting to see you when you come home.
Freshman year of high school, my mom pushed me to join the adult choir at our new parish. I wasn’t too happy with her at the time- there was no one my age really in the choir and I didn’t feel like I’d fit in. Quickly, though, the women in the alto section accepted me as one of their own, and I gradually became more and more comfortable until we became quite the little tight-knit group. We’ve seen some people come and go and even adopted the “younger” crowd from the other sections of the choir, but the foundation of the group remains a strong group of alto women from 32 to 18 (I’m the baby of the group). These are honestly the people that I miss the most. And these are the people who make the effort to stay in touch- a text every now and then, funny posts on Facebook, and even a care package at Christmas. They’re always asking when I’m coming home to sing with the choir- or more importantly, go out for our traditional post-rehearsal pizza.
During finals week, I received a text from two of my church choir friends asking, as usual, about coming home and coming back to choir (pizza), I felt so loved. Because they were making the effort- and they were legitimately looking forward to seeing me! These people are true friends of mine. These people truly love me. At home and away.
But I have a responsibility in all of this. The first I have already done: recognize that these are the people that truly care about me. The second I must continue to do, and that is to care for them as much as they care for me. To not take for granted the fact that they do care so much. Because not everyone does.
Never take for granted the people who really show you that they truly care. They don’t come around that often. When you’ve found them, hold onto them tightly and treat them right. And always, always be thankful.