Words Can Heal


The Gift of Friendship

The holiday season is the very best time of year. It means warm gatherings of the whole family, delicious feasts, and lots of great presents. Right?

Not for everyone . . .

Lisa is the only child of divorced parents who live in different states. Every year her parents fight the “War of the Worlds” over who will get Lisa for Christmas. No matter who wins, Lisa loses. She spends the holiday feeling miserable about the other parent who is spending Christmas alone.

Jeff’s father was laid off his hi-tech job last January. His mother went back to work, but she earns scarcely a third of the salary his father was making. Paying the mortgage for their lovely suburban home and putting food on the table has eaten up their whole savings. Jeff’s mother told him, with tears in her eyes, that they can’t afford presents this holiday.

Every year Jenny and her mother go to her grandmother’s house for Christmas dinner. Jenny hates it. Her grandmother always makes critical remarks about Jenny’s father. Her two uncles try to outdo each other with sarcastic put-downs of everyone in the family, including Jenny. And Jenny’s cousins, who live in two-income families, try to make her feel bad about all the stuff they have that Jenny doesn’t.

This Holiday Season, Give the Gift of Friendship

You cannot solve major problems that plague some of your classmates and friends. But there is much you can do to make their holiday season happier.

Be sensitive to what’s going on. Just because a classmate lives in a big house doesn’t mean his family isn’t financially strapped. A youngster’s sense of deprivation at not being able to afford what his friends have is compounded by embarrassment. If a friend makes repeated excuses for not going bowling or to the movies, maybe it’s because he doesn’t have the money. What can you do? Don’t put him in a potentially embarrassing position by insisting he come. Don’t brag about all the great gifts you got this holiday. Don’t ask him what he got.

Provide a listening ear. Most problems feel less burdensome after they’re shared with a friend. By speaking about difficult life situations, everyone feels somewhat relieved. And just the fact that a caring friend wants to help provides real compensation for even major life crises. What can you do? Don’t pry, but let your friend know that if she wants to talk about her apprehensions about the forthcoming holiday, you’ll be a sympathetic, non-judgmental listener. The point of listening is not to provide a solution (many problems cannot be solved), but to validate the feelings your friend expresses: “Of course you don’t like listening to your grandmother roast your father. Nobody would!”

Show concern. Don’t assume that everyone in your class is busy enjoying a great vacation. If you know someone who is a single child or from a divorced home or seems troubled, reach out and be a friend. What can you do? Pick up the phone and call. “Just wanted to know how you’re doing …” is a non-threatening, caring opener. Or invite him/her over to your house to do something fun. Knowing that his/her company is valued can lift anyone’s spirits.

Lend. Giving someone a hand-out may humiliate him/her. Borrowing, however, is not demeaning. What can you do? If you intuit that someone is not going ice-skating with the gang because he doesn’t have ice skates that fit, scrounge around your house for an extra pair and lend them to him. If one of your classmates took a part-time job after Halloween, perhaps it was to earn money for holiday presents. A loan of $50 may help her buy that present for her mother that she was working toward.

How about adopting this motto? This is the season of "good will toward men." Let it start with me.

Source: Brought to you by www.verticalresponse.com Visit www.WordsCanHeal.org for more ideas on how to heal with words. And spread the word! Send this message out today -- together we can make a difference!

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