"Girlfriends and Sisters"by Marcia Barhydt, Woman of a Certain Age

Of all the joys of Christmas, I think my favourite would be the surprises – giving them, receiving them. Well, ok, we all enjoy receiving, but I’m certain there are a large number of women reading this right now who prize themselves for choosing just the right gift for everyone on her shopping list; I know I do.

And what I’ve come up with for this year for WE Magazine for Women is the gift of friendship, the friendship, the support, the love that we women give to each other every day of the year.

I’ve experienced this female friendship many times of course, but never more than when I turned 65. On the day of my birthday, I was to have lunch with a close friend. She met me at the door of the restaurant and we walked with the hostess to our table and guess what? Eight of my closest friends sitting there waiting for me! Surprise!

Many of these women started out in my life as a business acquaintance, then became a colleague, and then became a friend. What a remarkable thing it is to find new friends when we’re older. I also continue to count a high school girlfriend, a woman from my first job in 1964 and three roommates from the training I did to become a flight attendant in 1967 as close friends . I am rich in friends.

What my friends have been is the most incredible support system I could ever imagine. Each one of them colours my own tapestry with different shades and hues. Each one listens to me when I need her to listen and she talks to me when I need talking to. These women wrote words on their cards and the women absent wrote words in their emails that brought tears to my eyes.

There’s nothing that’ll make me cry faster than being loved. And I was surrounded by it. It was a day of my life that I’ll count in a very short list of very special days.

As I was basking in all this warmth, I started thinking about what we do for each other as friends. About how very much we, as women, support each other through all kinds of adversity and triumph. If one of us has a health problem, the others are there. If one of us has a high point in her life, the others are there. Each one of these women has made my life easier, my problems smaller or at least more solvable, my victories sweeter. Each one of them has listened to parts of my life, both business and particularly personal, with a patience that’s amazing. Each one of them has come to me at times for my thoughts about their business and personal challenges and high points.

That’s what we do for each other, isn’t it? We’re there for each other. That’s what women do. I think this is a uniquely woman thing. And I think I am so lucky to be a woman, to experience this support. In our lives, other people come and go, life events occur and evolve; even the men in our lives can change. But these women are constant. Never changing. Always there for us.

These women are each a sister to me, closer than if we’d shared a bedroom, fought over clothes and whispered our teenage dreams to each other. I cannot imagine my life without them.

Celebrate the holidays this year by touching your own sisters, your own gift of friendship to them and theirs to you. What a great gift!

©Marcia Barhydt, 2011