Today, I was reliably informed earlier this morning - and under the circumstances, suitably, by a very close friend - is International Friendship Day. OK, it may have originally been a Hallmark Holiday (seriously) but now it is a 'really really' day about all that is good about our mateys.
How do you describe your friends? How do you put your finger on what makes a good friendship? More importantly, how do you say 'I am grateful' to those who stand by you through thick and very, very thin?
To me, friendship doesn't have to be about talking to someone every day. Sometimes the best of friends don't talk for weeks or months - maybe even years. It's not about material things or keeping a record of who has done what for whom over the years. It's not about the longevity of a relationship; with some people you know in a heartbeat that there's going to be some serious silliness ahead and that's that.
The best friends are the ones who give you a hard time when you talk rubbish. Who don't roll their eyes (too badly) when the 3 a.m. text comes through saying 'I need to talk to you now'. Who catch your eye at a social gathering when things are a bit tricky biscuit and make you bite down on the inside of your lip so that you don't snort with inappropriate laughter.
They are the ones who catch you when you fall. And fall hard.
They listen to your hiccupping attempts at talking through monster tears. You may have even been sick near or on them. They hold you tight - as tight as they can - and threaten vile recriminations and concrete-shoed death threats against those who have hurt you. They nourish your heart and your soul, and give you everything of them that they can. Sometimes more than they can afford, both emotionally and in some cases even financially, just because they love you. They will be truthful and sometimes tell you things you don't want to hear, and you may not like them very much at times, but there is beauty in honesty.
This is what friends are.
If you are like me, and therefore a bear of very little brain, they are the Piglet - and in some very special cases, the Tigger - to your Pooh.
So today, on a day that the entire world has decided is all about friends, tell your mates, your cobbers, your besties, your collective fidus Achates, your soul mates, your confidantes, the group of idiots who know all your deep dark twisty turns...
Tell them you're grateful for them.
Give them a very, very big hug.
And some chocolate. Because no doubt you owe them about 25 tonnes of the stuff.
And possibly a dry-cleaning bill or two.