It’s the most wonderful time of the year….hey everyone, I hope you are ready for a happy and healthy holiday season.  I know I am not completely ready yet.  I would like to think I am a great gift giver, but I am such a last-minute shopper!  Still have some gifts to get in crunch time here heading into Christmas.

Yesterday, I had the honor of watching my longtime and close friend, Mark, graduate from the police academy.  He invited myself and a couple other of our friends to come to the ceremony and out to dinner with his family after.  For anyone who has gone to a police academy graduation, you will understand how inspiring it is to watch.  These officers have an absolutely incredible amount of discipline.  From the way they march, the way they sit, the way they salute, and the way they act, the discipline is remarkable.  While watching the class video and listening to the music being played, I whispered to my friend Matt, “I am ready to run through a wall right now.”

They go through a grueling six months of training where they have to leave their families for the week.  They stay over at the academy and are only allowed to come home on the weekends.  For single people, this may not seem like that much of a sacrifice but for people that are married with kids, like my friend Mark is, this is not an easy thing to do, but you do it for your family.

As I was sitting in the ceremony, I started to think about the different friends I have had throughout all different parts of my life.  I find it interesting on how you select who you call a friend and how that selection process changes as you get older and more mature.  As a young kid in elementary, middle, and even high school, the goal is just to make friends and have as many friends as possible.  Obviously, these friends have some similar interests that you do, but at that age we just want to be known as someone who has a lot of friends.

Like I said, as we get older, we begin to get more selective as to who we call a friend and we tend to look more for quality over quantity.  I have been so lucky in my life that I still call some of the guys I played basketball with growing up my closest friends.  I am not sure many people can do that.  A lot of times, friendships fizzle out and people naturally go their separate ways, but I have been lucky to still be able to call a lot of these people close friends.

There are so many qualities that make someone a great friend: loyal, thoughtful, similar interests, caring, fun.  The list can go on and on.  While I sat there and watched Mark have his shield pinned on his chest graduating from the academy, I couldn’t help but think of what I think is the most important quality a friend can have.  If you are “proud” to call someone your friend, I don’t think there is anything else you can ask for.  If you can introduce someone and say that you are proud to call them your friend….what is better than that?  Think about the people in your life.  Are your proud to call them your friend?  I know I am.

To all the last-minute shoppers, like myself…good luck at the mall the next couple of days!  For those who are done shopping…I envy you….

Have a happy and more importantly healthy holiday season.

You’re amazing!