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Friendship is Not Just For Christmas

Friendship is a wonderful asset. Friends are the confidantes of all the times of our lives; the people we shared our lollipops with as children; the girls we giggled with on 'sleep overs'; the companions of girlish experiments with fashion and makeup; the boys we cycled miles with and the buddies of a dozen guilty adventures such as orchard raiding and skinny dipping.

Those childhood friends should be forever but often they slip away, fading into memory when they move away in search of new jobs and following family commitments somewhere out of sight and out of mind. How sad it is that they become shadowy memories; no longer part of our lives except at Christmas or on birthdays when we might send a card, prompted by some entry in a date calendar we consult throughout the year to remind us of our obligations.

It need not be quite so cold and unemotional. Friendship is one of the greatest gifts we have and it should be celebrated not just at Christmas and birthdays but all the year through. Like love, friendship should not be taken for granted; beautiful yet fragile enough to be broken by indifference over years of neglect.

As we reach the final year of the first decade of the twenty first century, the true value of friendship has become under rated. We send our emails and put notices on social networking sites and congratulate ourselves that we have done enough to keep our friends 'topped up' with a 'Hi guys, hope you are all okay', when in fact so many of our friends are suffering financial hardship or family problems, struggling, unknown to us, to stay cheerful without a friendly shoulder to cry on.

You cannot broadcast your most personal problems on a public network; you cannot type 'remember when we did this...' and wait for three days to receive a reply and feel you have had some meaningful connection with a friend! Friendship just does not work that way. Friends are there; friends are real and touchable, even if they are far away, not just through phone calls and letters but also through the gifts we exchange and the thought we have put into how we choose our friendship gifts.

This year, as the planet enters crisis not only financially but environmentally, give a Christmas gift that may be kept forever; a gift that is earth friendly and comes from the earth itself. Think about ditching the impersonal Christmas card this year and try making a real gesture of friendship toward those you would like to be closer to; it's time for friends to celebrate every day of the year.

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Cathy Raff
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