And a very merry Christmas to you.
Saying that, the year must be nearly gone. How that happens so quickly, I'll never know. I haven't given out my Halloween candy yet. To my credit, I haven't eaten all of it either, though my freezer holds it for me.
What a horrid place my world would be without occasional chocolate. Especially after hot salsa and chips.
Chocolate in the freezer is like a friend waiting to be part of my life again. It's there. Waiting, just waiting. If I need the fix chocolate brings, I'll have it as soon as it thaws.
I've got good teeth; if I need it quickly, it wouldn't even have to thaw. But that's beside the point. The point is, if I need it, it's there. If I need a friend, I have only to look.
Everybody needs to know somebody cares. That doesn't mean a deeply romantic love, either. If you're lucky, you find that and hold it close forever. No, it's not the romantic love I'm talking about.
Everybody needs to know there's someone out there who will love them unconditionally, no matter what. That's what friends are for. Granted, not all friends fill that bill, but even one will do.
Christmas gives people a window for opening up to such friendships. While we're surrounded with God's love through the birth of his son, it's easy to see unconditional love, and seeing is believing, and believing is akin to understanding.
Along with drumming the Golden Rule into a child's mind, mothers often push the adage "to have a friend, be one." Don't sit back and wait, expecting others to act first, expecting the neighbor to come to you with cookies or freshly baked bread. Go to them. You don't need to take anything except a smile and time. Time is the greatest friendship maker simply because an hour out of a hectic week says this is real.
If you've got a fledgling friendship going, nourish it. If you're looking across a chasm at an old friendship, get yourself some climbing shoes and start the trek across. Build a bridge if you have to, but make the start. If you're hurting from some slight, figure out a way to talk about it. If you've made someone unhappy, figure out a way to fix it.
As you're moving through the holidays with love and understanding all around, take the first step if you have to. Don't let old friendship get away. Don't be afraid to say I love you and I need you in my life. I want you close, like chocolate in my freezer.
You're right - this does sound a little preachy. It's not meant to be. Maybe I've been listening to too much mood music, but it's dawned on me that friendships get me through the day, even if my only interaction with those friends is in memory. A shared meal, a shared joke, the comfortable feeling that stays in my heart after the thought is gone.
Everybody needs to know somebody cares.
So long friends, until the next time when we're together.
Sandy Mickelson is the former lifestyle editor of The Messenger. She is retired. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org