Every year that I can remember, my dad, brother and I have gone to Texas for Christmas to spend with family.  It’s always one of the highlights of my year.  My family at home is small and somewhat dysfunctional, but my extended family is large and very close. I have about a dozen cousins ranging in age from 9 months to 28 years, aunts, uncles, in-laws (who are all great!), great-aunts and -uncles, and grandparents.  We used to meet in the small town of Abilene at my grandparents house, but now meet at an uncle’s for our annual gift exchange.  Watching the Cowboys lose :[, playing boardgames, getting clobbered at capture the flag or seven on a line, seeing who could eat the most mashed potatoes are all things that have been a part of my life forever and I never want to lose (if all of my uncles can still play balderdash for hours, then so can everyone else).  On the other side of my family, even though it is very small and lives much farther away, I don’t know what I would do without them. I am so thankful that they all always have my back through the tough times, and know how to make me laugh and smile better than anyone else.  They were infinitely more supportive than I could have imagined this year.

I learned a lot about friendship this semester, too.  There was a rather desperate point around my birthday when I realized how slim my circle of friends had become, but then I realized how much better it is that way.  I would so much rather have a couple of friends who really know and care about each other, than a lot of acquaintances and people who are just looking for more cookie cutter friends.  It’s always crazy to me that I’ve had the same best friend for 10 years now, and I am so lucky.  Even though there are some semesters where we only see each other once a week, if that, we still know everything about each other.  She always takes the time to hear me out, and when I have a problem, she always sticks with me.  She’s an encourager – she builds me up, and when I make a mistake (like the huge one that came to a point this semester), rather than deciding I wasn’t worth her time, she helped me figure out a solution to make me a better person.  Real friends don’t jump ship when hard times come by, they wait out the storm and know that their friend will do the same for them.  Others will come and go, but these friends last – cherish them! Everyone deserves someone like this in their life, and I hope someday I can be just as positive a friend as Kayla is.