No, not these kinds of peeps - though I do so love me some marshmallow Peeps! (And thanks to Wikipedia for a Peep picture.)
I'm talking about the peeps I had lunch with after church on Sunday, the peeps that aren't family but might as well be, because I consider the older adults to be other parents of mine, and those that are my age are good, good friends. I've known these people my entire life. My mother joined a church when I was three months old and soon found a Sunday School class where she felt comfortable. One of my earliest church-related memories is standing outside of my mother's classroom, with other children, jumping as high as we could because our parents had ignored the bell that told them Sunday School was over and we were beginning to wonder if they were ever going to come out so we could go to worship service. Talk about reversal of roles.
The "fathers" have helped me move, gone with me to court when a man assaulted my car and I pressed charges, offered advice on how to fix things, and generally have played the role of father that my own father didn't. The "mothers" have consoled me when I found out I had diabetes, told me how to get stains out of clothes and quilts, given me ideas on substitutes when I was half-way through a recipe and realized I was missing a key ingredient, and share recipes and homemaking tips. I've gone on trips with these lovely people, taken "retreats" with some just we so could go play cards, eat food, and talk. I've babysat some of their children. I remember a childhood full of times spent at their houses, during adult parties and play dates.
Their daughters (and oddly enough, they almost all had daughters) are dear friends. We weren't always that way, but thankfully we are now. I go on trips and retreats with them, too, and dinner parties, back yard barbecues, movie nights, game nights, and on and on. They hold me accountable to my values, and are always willing to listen when I'm whiny or down. They lift my spirits and support me.
Having this group of people who have known me my whole life, who love me, sometimes in spite of myself, who laugh at and with me, and who will be there no matter what, is such a great blessing. I've come to realize that more and more these past few years, as I've seen some of them less and less. You see, for some very messy reasons, I no longer attend the same church they do. It was a hard decision to move on and find a new church, but I don't regret it. What I do regret is that not being in the same pew as they are week after week means that I don't see some of them for months at a time. I miss them. It had been a long time between visits when we were finally able to get together this past Sunday. I'm so glad we did! In fact, I was enjoying myself so much that it didn't even occur to me to get my camera out and take a picture or two!