Old friends are a steady spring rain, or late summer sunshine edging into fall, or frosted leaves along a snowy path— a voice for all seasons saying, I know you. The older I grow, the more I fear I’ll lose my old friends, as if too many years have scrolled by since the day we sprang forth, seeking each other.
Old friend, I knew you before we met. I saw you at the window of my soul— I heard you in the steady millstone of my heart grinding grain for our daily bread. You are sedimentary, rock-solid cousin earth, where I stand firmly, astonished by your grace and truth. And gratitude comes to me and says:
“Tell me anything and I will listen. Ask me anything, and I will answer you.”
On Saturday, I was a vendor at a holiday craft bazaar at Ithaca First Assembly of God Church. Over forty vendors set up tables and displayed their handmade items in the sanctuary, the entryway, hallway, main fellowship hall and a smaller side room, which is where I was located.
This was my fifth craft fair since I began this tiny business in September and I’ve attended a couple of humdingers, let me tell you. I won’t mention names, but some were very far out in the country and all, except this one, were not advertised well.
Thankfully, First Assembly is on the ball. There was a Facebook event, an email went out to the participants to share the event with friends on their social media pages, and an email went out to local churches to advertise as well. The women in charge were super organized and knew what Square and Apple Pay were which meant we would definitely have WiFi. The place was clean, brightly lit, upbeat Christmas music played and the people came in droves to shop.
My table had ornaments, small felt dolls, natural body care products, decorative pillows, and nine flax warming pillows. Honestly, I hoped to sell my ornaments and dolls and pillows along with the rest of my things. And I thought I would because they’re cute and seasonally appropriate. Alas, not an ornament or doll sold. My winter balm, made of coconut oil, shea butter, and lavender sold out. Lots of lip balm and several lotion bars sold as well. But my continual bestseller are these flax warming pillows. Some have lavender flowers added and some are flax alone, but they all come folded and tied with ribbon. I display them in a small treasure chest I found at Mimi’s Attic with a blackboard sign.
When I wracked my brain, I could not remember how I ever decided to make these pillows to begin with. Maybe someone mentioned them to me? Maybe I just bumped into the idea on Pinterest? Anyway, I made four pillows for the first craft sale back in September and I sold out. Every place since–even the very worst sales–I sold a few of these. Well, this Saturday, I sold out of all nine of them. It is interesting what people want. You really never know. Part of me thinks these flax pillows will continue to be a “bread-and-butter” item for my business. Part of me is worried I’ll make up a bunch of these and they’ll sit unwanted on the shelf and people will want something else. I’m going to go with the former leaning and purchase flax seed in bulk from the Amish tomorrow. If I’m wrong, all my friends and family will be getting these pillows as gifts for the next year.
The greatest part of Saturday, though, even more encouraging than having very good sales, was all the friends and family who came. They hugged me, chatted about kids and work, asked me about myself, took photos, laughed and commented on my items for sale. Many of them purchased things as well. It felt wonderful to have made things for people I love to use or give as gifts. My mother came with my niece–she’s the one that bought my last two flax pillows. Alan was an angel and came twice: once to replenish my ones and fives and again to bring me lunch. When I packed up at 3, my heart was happy. If only every craft fair could be as full of success and a sense of community. Today, as I cut out fabrics for another dozen flax pillows, I felt carried along by the lightness and merry atmosphere of that event. If only I could package that feeling…it would be a bestseller too.
After a rather glum couple of days, missing my kids as only a mother can, I looked forward to a quiet evening alone. It was Halloween and at least one of my kids was trick or treating. They had rides already and didn’t need me. Alan had a date with one of his boys to watch the made-for-tv version of IT and I had a date with Scrivener, the program I just downloaded free for the duration of NaNoWriMo 2017. I needed to get comfortable with it before diving into writing.
As butternut squash, portobello mushrooms and onions roasted in the oven for dinner, I sat at my desk, trying not to hunch over my laptop. I was considering an Instagram post, starting to compose it in my head and enter the photos into Layout, when my phone rang.
It was a close friend, calling to ask if I’d like to rummage through her collection of fabric and take whatever I liked for my craft business. We talked shop–various fabrics and where to find them, craft fairs she knew of that I didn’t, and books, of course. Always books.
“There is no surer foundation for a beautiful friendship than a mutual taste in literature.”
― P.G. Wodehouse
We moved on to deeper subjects like close relationships, work, and health issues. And we talked of her coming over for dinner in the next week or so. Just the sound of her voice and the interaction over the phone brought such warmth and encouragement to my whole self.
Although I didn’t realize it until she called, I needed a friend, a person who knew the real me, even if we were talking of weighty things. I didn’t mind that, but I was craving the connection, those minutes listening, learning, sharing and laughing as only two people who know each other can do.
After we finished our conversation, my whole outlook brightened; the night no longer seemed lonely. I felt nourished inside instead of starving. I felt hope, possibility, and the joy of an afternoon or evening together to anticipate.
If you’re wondering if a friend or family member needs a phone call, text, or a letter in the mail, don’t hesitate, act on your hunch. If you’re feeling in need of a friend, reach out. We are healthier and happier with meaningful connections. We live longer. Let’s be grateful for the friends we have and nurture our treasured relationships.
“A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.”
― Lois Wyse