One of the best things about Christmas and summer holidays in Australia is the opportunity it provides for us to remember each other. To make contact with people we donít always spend time with or keep in contact with during the busy-ness of our year. The idea of having a marker in time like Christmas when we feel that there are certain things we want to do can be helpful. It can be a time to reflect on what is most important to us, what matters most and help us to prioritise those things. It can give us an excuse to get out of our usual routines of day to day life and stretch ourselves in a different direction.
I was reminded of this when I received a text from a friend I donít see very often. We said that we really must catch up before Christmas. It gave us a time line that stops the time getting away again, as it does during the year. We often say we want to catch up and while we genuinely want to we can find it difficult to find the time. We both have demanding work lives. She, luckily for her, has been travelling overseas a bit. She has also travelled, probably more unluckily, for work around Australia this year. I have family and volunteer commitments which vary depending upon what is going on. So finding some precious time that we can prioritise for each other, even just for a few hours for dinner, has proved to be challenging during this busy year.
One of the best things about catching up with friends is the way it gives you a chance to reflect on whatís been happening. If they know you well they can help you reflect as they comment on what is the same or different for you over time. You can notice the same about them. By just telling them about the things that have been happening in your life, you get to share parts of yourself that you might keep to yourself. You get to choose what you will and wonít share Ė what has been most and least important. It gives you a chance to hear yourself talk about your year and in doing that reflect on what it sounds like. You get to notice the emphasis you place on certain things. You notice what you leave out, what you really donít want to share or bother someone else with.
If you have a number of friends that you catch up with from time to time you may find yourself sharing different aspects of your life with them. You might share details of your family life with someone else who has a family. You get the sense that they will understand your experience more than someone who doesnít have family commitments. You might share aspects of your working life with people who value their work, or have been through similar experiences in their job. Probably the best friends are the ones you can share all aspects of your life with, those who are most closely connected to you, who perhaps live a life that is similar to yours. With similar values and beliefs. With similar worries and cares.
The other joy is hearing about their lives as well. Listening to another personís experiences and taking your mind off yourself can be refreshing. It can feel good to be there for another person. It can feel good to know that you are not the only one who has a range of experiences. Thank goodness Christmas gives us this chance to prioritise all of these friendships and keep our connections with each other truly alive.