In 2023, Friendships are More Important than Ever

Happy New Year! I hope you had a wonderful New Year’s weekend. Margie and I sure did. We spent New Year’s Eve with three of our favorite couples, enjoying a fun evening with lively conversation. We watched the New Year’s celebration from Times Square in New York City live on TV at 9 PM and then, after hugs and well wishes, everyone headed home. We were happy to be able to bring in the new year with good friends.

On Sunday, our pastor spoke on the topic of friendship. He emphasized that besides our family there is nothing more important than good friends, particularly friends who are there for you in good times as well as bad times. To underscore this point, he talked about the classical film It’s a Wonderful Life starring Jimmy Stewart. He plays a character named George Bailey who continually gives up his own plans for the needs of his community of friends. 

So what did Margie and I do Sunday night? We watched It’s a Wonderful Life. What a terrific old black-and-white film, made in 1946. If you haven’t seen it, watch it! Love and friendship are the main themes. George Bailey is always there for others, just like our friends are there for us.

Good friends make tough times bearable and good times better. Life is more meaningful because of the people we share it with, day in and day out. In fact, friendships are known to have a positive impact on our general health and wellbeing.

This got me thinking about how much the pandemic has interfered with travel, togetherness, and personal connection over the past three years. I’m sure many friendships have faded into the background during this stressful time. So let’s start the new year on a great note. Make a list of what you want to accomplish by the end of 2023 and include a commitment to getting back in touch with some of your old friends. I encourage you to celebrate these important relationships in whatever way works for you.

When I think of friendships, I think about my college days at Cornell. We have a group of couples—there are 12 or 14 of us—that we have kept in contact with since we first met in college. That’s more than six decades! We have a wonderful time staying in touch. We’ve been Zooming together since Covid started. I met one of the guys, Bob Lurcott, in fifth grade and he was best man at our wedding in 1962!

Here’s another way we connect with friends. When Margie and I get ready to send out Christmas cards each December, she creates a letter that summarizes the highs and lows of our year. We send our Christmas card and letter to over 300 family members and friends, and I write a personal note on each letter to let people know I’m thinking about them. As I’m working my way through our cards, I often run across names of friends I haven’t been in contact with for a while and I give them a call right then and there. It’s always fun to surprise them and catch up.

You say reaching out to people doesn’t come naturally to you? I say jump out of your comfort zone and call that friend you are thinking about. I do this a lot—and most of the time, people seem happy to hear from me. I’ll bet your old friends will be happy to hear from you, too.

Of course our families are precious. But the icing on the cake of life is friendships—old and new. Our friends make us who we are. Don’t forget to stay in touch with them. Continue to reach out and invite your friends to be part of your life in 2023. You’ll never regret it!

Thanksgiving Thoughts from Ken

This week brings one of my very favorite holidays—Thanksgiving. I love it because it’s not focused on gifts and things like that. It’s about what everyone brings to the table. You pass around the turkey and the dressing and all, and it’s a chance for everyone to really express what they are thankful for. I hope you’ll be able to do that.

I’m thankful that I live in this country. I’m thankful that I had a wonderful mom and dad who always lifted me up and a great sister who encouraged me constantly. I’m grateful that I met my wife Margie and she’s been my companion and my love and my partner for over fifty years now—it’s unbelievable. I’m thankful for our son Scott and our daughter Debbie and what they’ve brought to my life, and all of our grandkids who are all really special. I’m blessed to have a sweet little dog, Joy, who is a perfect example of unconditional love. I’m thankful for a wonderful God who loves me and loves you and loves all of us. I’m grateful that I’m healthier and in better shape than I have been in years. I’m thankful for everyone in our company. I think we’ve created a wonderful place and we want to continue to build on that as we go forward. We’re all in it together and we support each other.

I like to say, “Life is a very special occasion—don’t miss it.” Part of that is being thankful for the blessings you have. It doesn’t mean that there aren’t troubles along the way. But life is a very special occasion. Every day when we wake up we need to be thankful that we have another day to share and be with people and maybe make a difference.

So this week, reach out to the people you really care about and love, and tell them you care. I’m wishing you all the very best and I’m thankful that we all have an opportunity to make a difference in the world. Have a wonderful holiday. Recognize how blessed you are and reach out and tell people that you love them.  Take care.