It’s that time of year again where we all start thinking and talking gifts!!! A friend of mine asked me for some ideas of what to get me for Christmas this year. Keeping in mind that her budget is tight, I merrily tried to suggest things that were meaningful to me, but inexpensive, like the well known friendship collage. My friend had not heard of this, so I showed her a few examples I have received over the years, and also made reference to my dressing table mirror, which is bordered with a hefty collection of pics of my friends and family.
For those of you who have also never heard of a friendship collage, it can be a book, board, poster, frame or even virtual video. It generally contains pics of you and your friend, funny memories you have shared, tickets to events or shows you have been to, snippets of conversations you have had, quotes pertaining to friendship, letters expressing what she means to you, or anything else that is symbolic of your friendship. Not only is it inexpensive, it also shows you cared enough to apply time and effort into creating the perfect piece.
My friend scoffed at this idea, called it lame and said she had never liked someone enough to make a board about it!!! Haha Ok, fair enough, it’s not for her, and I’m sure there are plenty of you out there who share the sentiment that you wouldn’t thank someone for that gift. (Of course, I was suggesting things I would like, for ME, not things she would like. Something to be mindful of when gifting. See post “Friendship Is A Gift Of Giving” for more details.
It doesn’t bother me particularly that this idea wasn’t for my friend. This is the sort of gift that has to come from the heart, and if she wasn’t feeling it, then it loses it’s meaning. What did bother me more was the insinuation that my focus on friendships is infantile. Really? Her own home, and that of most of my friends is filled with pictures of family, parents, children, pets, weddings, siblings, holidays etc…. the people, places and things that you love? So why is it considered juvenile to extend that privilege to friends?
I certainly do display pictures of my wedding, my children, my pets, my extended family, and I do value these people and the relationships we share, that is no less true because I like to include my friends in the mix too. I think my friends perspective, is shared by our culture and society. Friends are important when you are young, until you have a family and “grow up.” After that time they cease to be important because other things take priority.
I simply can’t and won’t accept this to be true, not for me, and hopefully not for you. Friendships are important. Study after study proves that they increase our happiness, productivity, mental health, and even lifespan. Many people of my parents generation spend time reminiscing about the good old days….. and when you probe into what was so good about those old days… the answer seems to be “friends.”
Added to this, as my parents generation finds themselves at the age of retirement, once again social interaction is craved and needed. They have the time and the means to enjoy themselves…. But with whom? While there really are clubs and things to make friendships later in life, which I value and encourage, prevention seems better than cure!
That starts with us!! Yes, with you! Part of being an adult is being heavy with responsibility, and I know that isn’t synonymous with friendship particularly, which is associated more with fun and youth and frivolity. However, it is our responsibility to make sure we maintain friendships, for ourselves and for future generations. We can help end the loneliness epidemic we are facing, by facing each other. We can teach our kids what really matters in this world are our friends and our family. Wealth can buy you many things, but true friendship isn’t one of them.
I am not suggesting that we don’t need careers and homes and families, of course we do, but what good is that success if we have nobody to share it with. So please, do put up your pictures of your friends…. Don’t “keep your memories of yourself in a shoebox on the closet shelf” – Curtis Stigers, To Be Loved.
Help me banish the idea that friends are only for the young. Friends are for YOU. Friends are for everyone in every stage, even if a friendship collage isn’t!!! Hehe
Your Best Friend ForNever