Coming up in the next couple of weeks we will be observing several holidays that celebrate relationships; International Friendship Day is observed in the United States on February 15th; Valentine’s Day is on the 14th; and a lesser known, but no less important event on February 11 is known as Make a Friend Day.
Now why do I say that this is a day that we should all take note of? Well, as I see it Friendship and Valentine’s Days are times to celebrate what we have, friends or companions that we’ve already formed bonds with, while Make a Friend Day can be seen as a challenge, an opportunity for growth.
If there is one thing that we have learned over the past year of living through a pandemic like COVID-19 that calls for us to keep apart from one another, it is that we, as people, need each other. Even before this past year of struggle, scientific studies were continuously coming out highlighting the importance of relationships to our mental health, our physical health, and yes, our very survival. Even those folks who enjoy the isolation of lockdowns and social distancing—and yes there are more of them than you might imagine—will have realized, when encountering the pizza deliverer or the letter carrier, that human contact is something they’ve been starved for.
How do we go about bringing more friendship into our lives, especially when we are supposed to be keeping apart until we’ve all been vaccinated? Well, we have to get creative. Maybe it’s time to get to know a neighbor or two by just happening to tackle the snow shoveling while they are out in their own drive. Or drop off some extra cookies you just happen to have on hand after a baking spree. The telephone is a safe strategy for keeping a physical distance, and you can text or message people to break the ice. Check in on how other people are doing in this often lonely time. One of the churches in Wayne Township has formed a committee of parishioners who volunteer to call other church members just to see how they are doing. If you look around your own environs I think that you will find many opportunities throughout the day to reach out and potentially make a friend.
So for this Make a Friend Day, set yourself a challenge: to plant a seed of friendship outside your social circle and see that as something you’ve accomplished and grown by during this second winter of a pandemic.