My children scampered out to the bus stop this morning, bundled (as least as much as you can bundle a teenager — which is not much, actually) against the cold. It was six degrees out. Yesterday was colder, because it was windy. But the day before, it had rained, with temps in the 40s.

“why do we live here?” my daughter asked yesterday, as we listened to the weather report before she left for school.

Why indeed? I’ve lived in Chicago for all of my life. My dad used to tell me that this weather “builds character.” Of course, he and my mother now live in Southern California. Apparently they built up all the character they needed.

In the last week, I’ve been to three or four gatherings with friends. Each time, I’ve come away thinking–I’m so blessed to have friends. The relationships with others are what keep us here, where yesterday our front door froze shut (the rain had turned to snow and frozen).

My husband’s job is an anchor of sorts. Because he’s not in the corporate world, we’ve never been transferred. We’ve lived in the same town for 16 of our 18 years of marriage, and before that, we lived in the next town over. We are rooted here. As a result, we have friends we’ve known for 20 years. We have neighbors that we have literally raised our kids with since pre-school.

One of my best friends, Lynn, says that a key factor in our spiritual growth is “having people who know you whole.” They have been through enough with you that they know more than just the outward facade, than the image you strive to manage. they’ve seen you when you’re stupid, they’ve seen you at your best. And love you anyway.

This is a season of parties, of gatherings. It can get a little overwhelming. My deep desire this holiday season is to enjoy not just an abundance of social connections, but to seek the soul abundance that comes from engaging on a deeper level.

Question: do you have friends who “know you whole”? What is one thing you can do to deepen some of the friendships you have?