Monday, February 09, 2009

Pre-Valentine's Day Thoughts on Friendship

As those of us who are adults are thinking about our one "true" Valentine, I thought it would be nice to spend a little time thinking about friendship in general.

Some of my fondest memories of grade school were born in the days prior to and on Valentine's Day. The making of the box which would hold those valentines received from friends in my class was fun and often it allowed for special time with my Mom, cutting out hearts, gluing paper doilies and red, pink and white construction paper on a cardboard box, cutting out the slot where the valentines would be delivered. I remember, too, how special it was to wonder about who put that really nice card in my box signed, "From your secret admirer," often giving way to weeks of pleasant dreams of who liked me but was afraid to tell me so.

As we grow older, we appreciate the deeper meanings of friendship. Often, the friends we hold most dear are those who still love us when we're in our worst mood, at our most needy or, sometimes, thinking only of ourselves. I think, those friends are able to excuse us at our worst of times because they have a history of bringing their worst to us at times, too.

There is simply something to be said for those people who don't expect perfection because they haven't risen to perfection themselves. How can I expect you to listen to all my complaints, worries and selfishness if I am unwilling to listen to your complaints, worries and selfishness?

Give and take, that is what true friendship means to me. Sometimes we give more than we take, other times we take more than we give, and true friends know, when they are in the process of giving, someday, sometime when they most need it, the roles will be reversed and they will be on the receiving end of support. We support because we love, do we love because we have been supported? Maybe.

"But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away." ~Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859

I had an acquaintance once (through past employment) who never sent out Christmas cards because it was already such a hectic time of the year, with plenty of parties and activities. Instead of sending Christmas cards, after the rush of Christmas was over, she'd send out Valentine cards to her friends and family, "Besides," she said, "the cards are much more affordable." That is true, and during such difficult economical times for many people, I felt it was an idea worth sharing.

At any rate, it is a wonderful time of year to be reminded, again, that my happiest and most joyful of times are when I am doing something for someone else.

Valentine's Day is a perfect time to express our thoughts of friendship and share our gratitude to others for the friendship they have offered to us.

"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words." ~Unknown


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