I'm having coffee with my friend when she pulls a small package from her handbag.
"For you," she says. "From Ireland."
She presses the package into my hand and she smiles. I smile, too. I know what's inside.
My friend has the sweetest way of gifting me. She buys me socks. Theme socks. Dee has two grown daughters, and this sock gifting has long been a tradition in her family. A few years ago, they pulled me in, too. I have Easter socks (one pair with a bright egg print, one pair with a bunny head that bobs the back of the ankle), Halloween socks (candy corn and bobbing pumpkin head), Independence Day socks, Christmas socks, and even socks from England.
Now I have socks from Ireland, too.
I open the package to find two pair. One is solid green. The other is wild with clover.
And I'm soft inside over the gift.
It isn't about the socks, really (though it's crazy cold for April and I can't wait to go home and put them on). It's the thought. It's the heart of it all. It's the gentle love of friendship and the unspoken message that gets me: I care about you. You matter to me. You're close at heart even when I've traveled far.
I set the socks on the table and squeeze my friend's hand.
Then I laugh out loud. The socks are darn cute.
"Thank you," I say. "For the gift."
But what I really mean is thanks for being my friend.
Dee squeezes my hand back.
My own unspoken words of friendship?
My friend. I know she knows.
Thank you God for the gift of friendship. Amen.
P.S. As I finish writing I remember one of our favorite children's books on friendship. Have you read THAT'S WHAT FRIENDS ARE FOR by Valeri Gorbachev? It's precious. Wonderful watercolor pics. (THE BIG TRIP is sweet, too.)