There is something about growing up with people in the same place for years and years, then, later in life, you want to stay connected.
This Saturday I am gathering with some girl friends that all grew up in the Silver Valley, and, at least one time a year, we gather together for lunch, to have a Christmas gift exchange, and to get caught up on life.
After I moved back to Kellogg nine years ago, we started getting together. There are six of us who have been together for almost every lunch each year since Christmas 2001.
I have a history with each of these women.
CM is one of my oldest friends...meaning I have known her since I was four years old. We attended kindergarden together, and her mother babysat me when I was in kindergarden. We attended school together through junior high, then she moved to Coeur d'Alene for a few years. She returned in ninth grade, then we graduated from high school together. We were at U of I together one year. We have know each other for almost 42 years. She now lives in Coeur d'Alene, and is working on her Masters of Social Work degree. Two of our daughters were born within weeks of each other.
BB was also in my kindergarden class. We then were in sixth grade together, and on through graduation. Her daughter is right between Kiki Aru and Z2, so I get to catch up with BB at sporting events, usually track in the spring. BB is a hair stylist in Hayden.
CD came to Kellogg while we were in junior high, but had relatives living in Kellogg, so her Silver Valley roots run deep. She married a guy from Mullan and her mom still lives in Kellogg. Her daughter runs cross country and her son runs track, so again, I see her at sporting events.
PS was a Pinehurst girl, so I didn't meet her until junior high. She is the "planner". She always gets our get together organized. PS has the youngest child of all of us. As many of us have children out on their own, or in middle school or high school, PS has a daughter in grade school, and loves every moment of it!!
TF returned to the Silver Valley the same summer we did, and both of our husbands were hired by the Wallace School District the same year. Our oldest daughters graduated from high school together, and we occasionally run into each other as well.
MR is a new comer to our luncheon this year. She was raised in Kellogg, and I got to know her when she came to Sunnyside School in fourth grade. Her mother was my Campfire leader for many years. She was a fellow flute player, and we were always in competition for first chair. One of my memories of MR is when, in sixth grade, the Little League babeball allowed girls for the first time to try out for a team. Both MR and I tried out and made the same team. She was the best player on the team....I was the worst. MR moved away after our freshman year and moved to Wisconsin. She is know back in Kellogg, and I look forward to rekindling our friendship after many, many years.
My brother also sees the value in gathering with his friends. For many years, Thanksgiving has been a time for him to reconnect with his high school buddies, either somewhere in Oregon, or here in the Silver Valley. For him, the catalyst for spending time with old friends was our father's funeral. He was very moved by the way Dad's friends responded as Dad lay in his bed dieing of cancer, and how his many friends he grew up with in the Silver Valley came and spent time with him as he lay in bed. My brother realized there was a special bond between Dad and his friends, and he wanted to experience that bond with the buddies he grew up with as well.
And I, too, realize the specialness in old friends. AL will not be with us on Saturday, but is arriving on Sunday to be here in the Silver Valley for about a month. AL and I can say one or two words, and be on the floor laughing, remember a funny story or joke from years gone by. It has been too long since I spend time with AL, and I look forward to getting caught up, and laughing until I cry.
KM is like that as well. She will also miss the lunch on Saturday, but will be here at her parent's house for Christmas, so we will find some time to get together. KM's house and my house had kitty corner back yards. Again, I have known KM since I was three or four years old.
What amazes me is the remarkable women the friends of mine have become, with beautiful families. Yes, there have been struggles....grief, pain, life....but we gather together, and it doesn't matter, because our bond is stronger than the circumstances of life.
We are social workers, nurses, mothers, wives, counselors, educators, lovers, friends, volunteers, hair stylists, insurance industry workers, substitute teachers, daughters.
Our roots go back to the hey days of the Silver Valley, when mining was big, and smelter smoke was even bigger!! But we didn't care.
It has forged in us a connection that we never want to break, as we continue our ritual of our yearly Christmas gathering, to share stories, share gifts, share lives.