When I want to do something to let someone I know that I care about them, I have a tendency to want to give them something.
When a friend has a baby, I want to bring them their favorite drink from Starbucks, some trashy magazine, and a cute newborn outfit.
When someone has surgery, I try to make them some of my family’s favorite banana bread or homemade hummus.
When Maya is having a bad day at college, I’m inclined to pull together a care package of her favorite treats.
And, when someone has a death in the family, I go to order a bouquet of flowers to be delivered to their home.
But, more times than not, I have to force myself to stop and think about how I can replace that “something” with something even more meaningful: my time. In almost every one of these situations, what I think would help carry them through these events more than any item I could ever hand over to them is time sitting by their side.
In many cases, the time I would spend going to stores to buy things, cooking at home alone, or searching online for just the right gift could have been spent with the friend who was also alone in a hospital bed, at college, or at their own home.
Sometimes it may not be appropriate, or even wanted, but I am always surprised by how often people would rather have companionship…instead of have more things. Even a handwritten letter or card can mean more to someone far away than yet another bouquet of flowers. It may take a few more minutes, but it is always worth it.
Having a close friend tell me stories and make me laugh is always a better option than trashy magazines 😉