I’m a lucky woman.  I’ve got so many friends.

This holiday season I’m feeling especially blessed by the people in my life.  You know who you are.   You’re my old friend who I played dress-up with and pretended to speak a foreign language called Limerick Gibberish.  You’re my high school friends who cheered over my first boyfriend and exposed me to life in a far broader sense than I’d known. You’re my college and New York City

friends who fed my appetite for life, my confidence and soul, celebrated my twenty-ish career success, love and marriage, and later, walked me through the fire of death and showed me life was still worth living.  You’re my Denver friends who opened up your compact worlds as if to say, “Come, there’s room for you at the table, join us.”   You’re my writer friends who love words; you humble me, each and every one of you, and inspire me to share my story.

I recently received a gift, a beautiful tiger stone from South Africa.  The stone is a gorgeous amber color ribbed with soft black lines.  It’s smooth and hard as candy and shimmers when you hold it to the light.  It’s a sweet trinket, a symbol of friendship, given by a woman I know who runs a business with her sister called The Friendship Stone.   The stones are mined in South Africa – no blood diamonds here –  and a percentage of the profits go directly to the villages where the stones are sourced to provide direct support for families.

Amidst all the holiday gift giving mania, there’s something downright pure about the simplicity of a small, raw stone from South Africa.   Like friends, no two stones are alike.  I gave mine to my friend, Julie, to pass along to fourteen-year-old Akewak Wondimu, in Ethiopia (Julie and her family are there now).   Akewak is a new friend who deeply touched my life and my family’s when he traveled to Denver this past year for heart and spine surgery.  You can read more about Akewak’s story at Colorado View Magazine.

Passing the stone from Julie, my college roommate, to Akewak, feels like connecting the dots in my life.  I wanted Akewak to have the stone to be reminded of his community in Denver. I wanted him to know that even though we are worlds apart, he need only rub the stone in his hand to remember us.

The people you meet in your life make all the difference.  And like love, gifts are so much better when shared.

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