Last night we had dinner with a couple we have been friends with for a while. They are a little older than us, but very fit, wise and interesting. She is a flight attendant and he is an entrepreneur who practiced martial arts every day until he injured his back. He once had our son hold a small cigarette-size stick between his lips and with a deft upward side kick sent the thing flying without touching our son, who was quite impressed. After that, he referred to them once as ‘Jackie Chan and the Stewardess’ and as happens with most nicknames, it just stuck! They are the couple we hang out with most often and we always have a good time. Last night we took spiced cider, wine and a chocolate desert and they grilled elk steaks and prepared vegetables as well as serving a nice antipasti and fruit for the appetizer. As always, the food was great, but there was one moment that was truly beautiful and remains with me as a snapshot of friendship and value of being fully present to the ‘now’ of everyday life. My husband and Jackie Chan were seated at the ends of two sofas arranged perpendicular to each other. They were solving some mystery of life, fully engaged in their conversation. I was at the end of the sofa my husband was on with their adorable tiny dog, who dislikes everybody else, resting peacefully between us. The stewardess was perched on a corner of the coffee table, looking well rested after a week of flying around the country. A fire was crackling in the rock fireplace, Christmas tree lights glistening, soft Christmas music playing, while the aroma of our dinner simmering filled the air and the hot cider warmed our bodies. Everybody was smiling and for a moment I just absorbed the richness of that particular snapshot of time. I then shared those thoughts with the stewardess; told her how warm and welcoming the ambiance was and that she seemed so happy and relaxed. She smiled and acknowledged that she was both of those things. I think that is how you know when you are truly good friends; when hosting them for dinner is relaxing and peaceful instead of anxiety ridden and stressful, conversation is easy and nobody cares whether the napkins are paper or linen.

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