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Jennifer Doering: The true beauty of friendship

I have always thought of the Christmas season as a time of reflection to think about what happened during the year within my family. Second on my list are the old friendships we have kept and the new ones we’ve made. This year Don and I lost some wonderful friends to a move, so in turn, we hold on even more dearly to the friends we still have.

Invariably, every year my family asks me what I want for Christmas, and truly, I have to say “nothing,” nothing you can physically grab on to anyway. I think of the song, “My Grownup Christmas List,” and I know, without a doubt, this song encompasses everything I could ask for. Who would not want no more wars, no lies and every child having a home?

Having lived in six states, far away from family, we have shared many friendships, but once we leave an area, those friends become a part of our past. We realize how much we value our friends; they say you can’t pick your family, but we are fortunate to have “picked” wonderful friends. To us, they are the family we count on.

This year has not been a year of good health for several of our friends. We realize no one goes through life unscathed by this misfortune. Giving of ourselves, emotionally and physically, is to us the best medicine we can give. I believe now, more than ever, acts of kindness are much more appreciated than a package with a Christmas bow.

We have experienced the joy of celebrating dinners with a few of our friends this Christmas season. They have given us several thoughtful gifts, but just sharing time with them is what we cherish the most. Because I have had to deal with more of my own health issues this year, I have been remiss in giving that present with the big bow; so all that is left is giving back what comes from my heart.

This past weekend, one of these couples we know who have gone through a rough year invited us over for dinner and games. Per usual, we compared health highs and lows, but still managed to have a wonderful time together. Before we left, our friend, who is a gifted artist, gave us a copy of a painting I have seen and loved for years in her home. I thought about all of the time she spent, painstakingly recreating this picture of nature’s beauty. We were absolutely overwhelmed receiving this gift she created, and gave freely with her heart.

I have always preferred giving more than receiving, but this Christmas season, our friends have shown us the best gift of all: the true beauty of friendship.

Jennifer Doering lives in Salisbury.

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