Saturday, 8 January 2011

'I'll get by with a little help from my friends'

I am determined to beat the winter blues. Each year, I make it to Christmas in reasonably good fettle and then, come January I slip into the slough of despond. Reasons for this come in spades - lack of sunlight (yes, the whole SAD thing, I suspect, is real), post-Christmas blues, the shortly upcoming birthday (how can I be this old?!), and the long, long haul to spring. But this year, I will not be downcast - and if I keep saying this enough, maybe it will work!

So, to beat the blues, I am cleaning the house (ok that's a bit sad), taking the dogs for a walk/run whenever it isn't precipitating in some manner, buying and cultivating as many indoor bulbs as possible, planning some nice treats and really, really appreciating my friends.

After my Damascus moment, courtesy of my son, when I realised I had been an old bag for most of 2010, I had a phone call from one of my closest pals who recently moved to the Lake District. She told me that I was a useless friend because I never ring her. I hate the phone. I have never got the 'I love to chat to my friends on the phone in the evening' thing because, to me, the phone is work. My great chum, who uses the expression 'friend to friend, enemy to enemy' before she delivers the killer blow (probably so you know it is coming!) told me to get over myself and whilst I am still not about to adopt the phone as my favoured means of catching up with my chums, I am making a big effort to keep in touch with those I love but don't always see.

When you all have children of the same age, there's a lot of socialising at the school gate that goes on unplanned and, as your children get older, change schools, go on the bus, go to university and finally flit the nest, you lose touch and then it becomes an effort to keep the contact going. Having had two rounds of children (like sandwiches but less digestible), we have friends whose children are in their twenties - daughters one and two - and young friends (to us!) who have teenage children - twins numbered three and four. It's easy to catch up with the latter set because they are doing the same round of school, cricket, tennis, parties etc that we are. The harder part is organising time with the first ones who have probably moved on from all of that and can go on weekends away and midweek nights out without worrying whether homework is being done in their absence. Some of these were friends of the time and perhaps force of circumstances made us spend more time with them than affection and mutual interests would otherwise dictate. Others are real treasures and very important in our lives and I know that we must not let these friendships drift away from lack of communication. And it takes both sides to make it work.

So my plan for beating the annual slide into the dark slurry of January is to phone/text/email and best of all, call in to see my dearest friends because their friendship is what will sustain me till spring comes.

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