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The 18th-century French poet Jacque Delille wrote, “Fate makes our relatives, choice makes our friends.” It’s so true. We can’t pick our family of origin, but we can surround ourselves with friends of our choosing.

Obviously, each of our families is unique, and it’s impossible to generalize about the families of plus-size women. Some of us are blessed with families who love and support us unconditionally, regardless of the size of our bodies. They lift us up when we’re down and are our biggest cheerleaders when we’re riding high.

Others of us aren’t so fortunate, and grew up in families that emotionally abused us because of our weight. Perhaps our mothers or fathers saw our size as a condemnation of their parenting ability. Maybe our siblings tormented us. Or perhaps we simply experienced the reality that, when the outside world tried to crush our spirit, no one in our family rose to our defense.

As adults, we can choose to maintain close ties with family members who are nurturing and distance ourselves from those who are judgmental. For some of us, our friends become our family of choice; for others, friends are a joyful complement to a loving family.

Our friendships nurture and sustain us. Our friends are those who lift us up when we’re scared, worried, sad, or depressed. Our friends are those we turn to when we’re celebrating a promotion, birthday, or new romance. They’re the people we know we can call in the middle of the night when we’re panicking, or who we can interrupt with joyous news. We trust them with our deepest, darkest secrets, and know that they’ll be unwaveringly loyal.

Friends are crucial to our well-being, yet it’s easy to get so caught up in the drama of daily life that we forget to celebrate our friendships. It’s important to be there when our friends need us, but we also need to recognize and nurture the relationships themselves – if only as a reminder that these friendships nourish our minds, hearts, and souls. Here, then, are five fantastic ways to remind your friends that you treasure them.

1. Write a long letter. Yes, letters are so 20th century, but that’s precisely why they’re so thoughtful. Convey the reasons why you appreciate the friendship, acknowledge her special qualities, or reminisce about those wild and crazy adventures you’ve shared. She’ll cherish your letter forever.

2. Plan a girls’ night out. Just as romantic relationships need the fuel of a regular “date night” to keep the fires burning, friendships need the oxygen of just-for-fun escapades to keep things light. Grab a bite to eat or go out for drinks – and don’t forget to laugh.

3. Try something new. Friendships are built on commonalities, but step outside of the box and invite your best friend on a new adventure. Go to a concert, visit a museum, take a class, or go on vacation together. The experience will give you something to talk about for years to come.

4. Surprise her. Express your thoughtfulness in unexpected ways. If she’s always stuck in the office, show up with a picnic lunch and spend a half hour at her desk. Shuttle her kids to and from soccer games on a Saturday so she can take a nap or a luxurious bath. Lightening her load will let her know you care.

5. Make a scrapbook. Create a scrapbook that commemorates your friendship. You can include photos, ticket stubs, and other memorabilia that reflects the experiences you’ve shared. It doesn’t have to be fancy to be heartfelt.

Remember that, while the bonds of friendship are often forged during our darkest hours, it’s the small gestures that acknowledge the strength and importance of the relationships we choose.

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