Wednesday, December 2, 2009


It often seems that I almost instinctively compartmentalize my relationships. I have my high school friends, my college friends, my church friends, my work friends, my family, and my in-laws, and these groups very rarely interact with each other. I recently started thinking about what can happen when these groups intersect each other as I was planning the Christmas party that my husband and I will throw on Friday. Last year's party involved some light intersections. There were some college friends who didn't know each other all that well and a few "townies" thrown into the mix. Still, everyone there was pretty much the same age, and it was a big group of young people who are mostly interested in all the same things hanging out together. This year, though, I have some new friends that I want to include who will introduce more variety into the group. I want to invite some church friends, and I've invited a couple of people who are quite a bit older and a couple who are a bit younger than most of the group. I wondered at first if these intersections of different groups of people who aren't usually together might make the guests a little uncomfortable, but then I remembered the unexpected benefits that have come from such intersections in the past.

How many stories are there of friends and even spouses being introduced to each other by a mutual friend? When I mix loved ones from different places in my life together, there's always a chance that special connections can happen among them. I met my husband because he was introduced to me by a mutual friend. My sophomore year college roommate and I wanted to live in a triple our junior year, so I pulled in a friend my roommate had never met before. That turned out so well that the two of them lived together senior year when I had to live off campus. I have friends from Northfield that I never would have met had it not been for my college friends who also grew up here and introduced me to these people. I've made new friends by joining groups where I hardly knew anyone, and I've been really glad that some of my friends have introduced me to their other friends.

Some of the happiness produced by these intersections has been more fleeting, but it's still worthwhile. I remember the toast my dad made at my wedding where he thanked my friends for making the day so special. I also remember what a great time some of my friends had when an older couple who are friends with my parents hosted them for my wedding. The couple loved having young people in their house, and my friends loved how nice they were and the fantastic breakfasts they made. I recall how two of my friends who don't know each other well had a lot of fun talking babies together at my Christmas party last year because one was a new mother and the other was expecting. I fully expect to hear more engaging conversations at this year's party as people who are different ages and have different professions and different lifestyles intersect and discover the things they have in common. These people seem very different to me because I interact with them in different environments and contexts, but when they all come together, they will inevitably find ways to relate to one another, and unexpected joy and engagement could be discovered.

It's true that intersections can be a little strange for the person in the middle. I act differently with my college friends than I do with my church friends, and I talk about different things with my colleagues than I do with my family members. When I get people from these different groups together, they'll all see me behaving in new ways as I interact with people they're not used to seeing me with. Still, I think that can be good too. These intersections give all of my loved ones a chance to learn something new about me, to see how I behave in other relationships. It gives me a chance to be more honest about who I am and the different things I care about. I'm actually really looking forward to mixing all these different people together at my upcoming party because I love them all so much. I am confident that we will all have a fantastic time together.

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