A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

A Legacy Of Friendship

March 10th, 2008

In a letter written to Arthur Greeves and dated December 29, 1935, C.S. Lewis penned the following thoughts on the topic of friendship:

“Friendship is the greatest of worldly goods. Certainly to me it is the chief happiness of life. If I had to give a piece of advice to a young man about a place to live, I think I should say, “sacrifice almost everything to live where you can be near your friends.” I know I am fortunate in that respect.”

Are you blessed to live near your friends? And should God move you, have you developed friendships that will transcend time and distance?

Having relocated six months ago to this new place, I am acutely aware of the importance of friendships. I sadly left behind 14 years worth of relationships in the Phoenix valley; people I had invested in and who had invested in me for over a decade. I miss them greatly.

What I’ve realized by being alone in a new place is that the only way friendships can transcend distance is if they were nurtured and developed with lots of “face time” before you, or they, moved away. In short, if you haven’t developed good friends before it’s time to rent the U-Haul, it’s too late. That I can call my friends, who now live hundreds of miles away, and pick up where we left off is because we spent lots of time together making memories and helping one another grow.

Sometimes the silliest things can help create a bond of friendship that, as Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “isn’t easily broken.”

One evening in October of 1983 during my junior year at Northwestern College, my roommate Craig Pennings and I were studying in our dorm room. On my desk was a box of Ritz crackers that I was munching on. I offered him some and he said “No, thanks”.

I said, “What’s the matter? My crackers aren’t good enough for you?” He said, “Hey, I’m not hungry.” When he left the room, I put the box on his desk. Later, without a word he put it back on mine. And so it went for a couple days. One day when I got them back on my desk for the umpteenth time, I put them away.

Before going home for Christmas that December, I dug those crackers out, tied them up in their wax paper wrapping, and stuffed them inside a shoe in his closet. I scribbled a note that said something like, “Since you didn’t eat them in October, I thought you might be hungry by now.” Then I laughed and left. By the time I came back for second semester, I had forgotten all about it.

In May 1984 after final exams I was packing up to go home for the summer and found the crackers stuffed in one of my shoes with a note from Craig that he thought I should keep them.

I did keep them.

For a whole year I kept them.

I kept them until graduation in May of 1985 when I went to his closet and stuffed them back in one of his shoes just before leaving the dorm for the last time. I attached a note that said, “Thought you better have these crackers since you wouldn’t eat them in October of ‘83. You thought I’d forgotten about these, didn’t you?” I laughed, thinking it was the last laugh, and left.

In April of 1988, three years after we graduated from college, I got a package in the mail. Inside were the crackers, along with a note that said, “Remember these? I thought you might be hungry.” 

This was entirely too much. Thinking for three years that you’ve had the last laugh only to realize you were just dealing with a very patient person is a real jolt.

In 1991, I mailed them back to Craig with a note.

For my birthday in 1993 he mailed them back to me with a can of Cheeze Whiz.

In May of 1996 I sent them back to him with a note, “Roses are red, old buckets are rusty, after 13 years, these crackers are crusty”.

I got them back in the mail in 2000 as a belated birthday present.

While preparing a sermon on friendship in September of 2004 I realized I had the crackers in my closet. I thought it would be an appropriate occasion to send them back to him.

These crackers or, more accurately, cracker dust, gets mailed back and forth every 2 to 4 years. Always after the other guy has forgotten all about them. And always with a note stapled on top of all the other notes we’ve written. It’s been going on for almost 25 years. Being the good friend that I am, Craig knows that if he dies before I do and the cracker dust is in my possession, I will find a way to get it inside his casket. Being the good friend that he is, I know he will do the same for me.

To anyone else that bag of Ritz cracker dust is worthy of a trash can. For Craig and I it’s part of the legacy that is our friendship. This running joke is evidence of a friendship that goes much deeper. Craig is one of the most loyal friends I’ve ever had. He has been there for me during the most difficult times in my life. He is an encourager with a caring heart and one of the most dependable people I’ve ever known. The kind of guy you can call in an emergency on zero notice to drive two and a half hours to pick you up at the Omaha airport from a midnight flight and then drive you another two hours to Sioux Falls, South Dakota where your Dad is in the hospital after a stroke.

In his song The Times of Our Lives Paul Anka wrote that, “Memories are times that we borrow to spend when we get to tomorrow.” Before memories can be spent, they must be made. How are you doing making memories with your friends? Are you making memories on purpose? Or by chance? Are you taking the camera with you when you go out to dinner? Are you playing the practical jokes that make for good stories later? Are you taking road trips? Going to concerts together? All these experiences now become valuable pieces of the “I remember when…” game later. They are all part of the legacy of friendship.

Here’s hoping you are blessed with friends near and far. And that wherever you’re living, you’re investing in friendships that will transcend time and distance.

If you’re not making friends, you might want to start. Your life will be richer for it.

And speaking from experience…

…if God decides to move you, it’s nice to have help loading the U-Haul.

– Todd A. Thompson