Paul and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a big party at home. The guests were mainly family and friends who we consider family. In fact, some of these friends we've had longer than we've had certain family members.
Paul and his best friend have known each other for over thirty years... in effect, they have been together longer than Paul and I have been together! This friend and his family have become part of our family, which includes Paul's biological family as well as mine. And over the years, as family members grow up and marry and have kids, the family expands as well, bringing in more family and family ties.
The lines between family and friendship tend to blur with us. We have found our best friends within our family and found family with our close friends. And by that we mean that there is nothing we wouldn't do for these people, even though we live over six hundred miles apart and really only see each other once a year. Yet somehow, despite the time and distance between us, we're never really apart. That closeness has even extended to our children, who also consider our friends' children as friends and cousins. It doesn't matter how much time we've been apart, when we do get together it seems as though we pick up right where we left off--no awkwardness, no getting reacquainted.
Part of our celebration included a Mass and the first reading we chose was from the book of Sirach 6:5-17. Part of the reading says: "A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter; he who finds one finds a treasure. A faithful friend is beyond price, no sum can balance his worth." Not only does that sum up my marriage with Paul, but it also defines the bond we share with the friends and family that gathered to celebrate with us. They have been as much a part of our lives these past 25 years as we have been to each other and it is nearly impossible to imagine what our lives would have been like without their loving presence.
During the course of the reception and dance (for which one friend brought all his DJ equipment and another had provided lighting and shelter--as a gift to us!) Paul and I requested a special song to be played for our treasured guests: "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" by Tracy Lawrence. It pretty well summed up our feelings for our family and friends who have many times have dropped everything and been at our sides, no questions asked, no hesitation, in good times and in bad.
People asked us what we wanted for an anniversary gift. What more could anyone want with family and friends like this?