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Girlfriends and the Holidays: A Match Made in Heaven

December 15, 2010

I almost started crying the other day when I was out to lunch.  There were 2 tables near mine full of women, clearly celebrating the holidays together.  I don’t know how the ladies knew each other, but I daydreamed that perhaps they were book clubs, or neighbors, or maybe had children in the same preschool years ago, or were part of a big family of sisters.  Whatever their relationships, watching them was enchanting.

While the ages of the women varied, they all had a few things in common: they all carried cute little gift bags, and they all wore something holiday-ish (a red scarf, a Christmas pin, a sparkly bag).  And they all looked happy – they smiled and laughed and hugged. It warmed by heart.  And it also got me thinking about the importance of girlfriends.  Because they are essential for women – and no matter how hard we try to make our husbands/boyfriends/partners into a girlfriend, it is never going to happen.  There are just some things that girlfriends can do, that the men in our life never will.

“Oooooooh, I love it!” I heard a lot of this at the restaurant the other day.  As each woman approached the tables, the others exclaimed loudly: “Ooooooh, I LOVE that pin – did you make it?” or “oh my gosh! I love your highlights!” or “Jane, you look amazing – so young and fresh!”  The enthusiasm and affection were overwhelming – and infectious.
I think I’ve heard that before. I can spend hours talking about the same thing.  And then I can talk about it for hours again the next day.  One of my favorite things about girlfriends is that they don’t get sick of listening.  The smallest development in the latest saga, and they listen to the whole story again – and actually seem interested! I know very few men who can hang in there for years on end as the women in their lives wax on and on about the same old thing – but girlfriends can do it with ease.
I think I’ve felt that before. In my clinical work I frequently offer group sessions because I believe in the power of shared experiences.  It is so affirming – and such a relief – to discover that someone else has gone through rough patches in their marriages, gone into debt, struggled with weight, or fantasized about the bachelor down the street too.
I think I can make it now. Spending time with a girlfriend can be energizing.  Laughter, shared experiences, and feeling understood can go a long way in helping to manage stress during this time of year (or anytime, really).  So enjoy those Christmas get-togethers, gift exchanges, holiday teas, and impromptu cookie feasts – and know that you are doing something good for your mental health!
photo by: Cafemama

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