The Gift of Friendship
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.
Jeffs 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. Jeffs mother told him, with tears in her eyes, that they cant afford presents this holiday.
Every year Jenny and her mother go to her grandmothers house for Christmas dinner. Jenny hates it. Her grandmother always makes critical remarks about Jennys father. Her two uncles try to outdo each other with sarcastic put-downs of everyone in the family, including Jenny. And Jennys cousins, who live in two-income families, try to make her feel bad about all the stuff they have that Jenny doesnt.
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 whats going on. Just because a classmate lives in a big house doesnt mean his family isnt financially strapped. A youngsters 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 its because he doesnt have the money. What can you do? Dont put him in a potentially embarrassing position by insisting he come. Dont brag about all the great gifts you got this holiday. Dont ask him what he got.
Provide a listening ear. Most problems feel less burdensome after theyre 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? Dont pry, but let your friend know that if she wants to talk about her apprehensions about the forthcoming holiday, youll 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 dont like listening to your grandmother roast your father. Nobody would!
Show concern. Dont 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 youre 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 anyones 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 doesnt 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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