One of my dearest friends is getting ready to move. It’s not a move to a bigger house in a nearby neighborhood, nor is it a move to a better school district on the other side of the county; it’s a cross-country move that will mean instead of seeing her once or twice a week, I’ll be lucky if I see her once or twice a year.
To celebrate (and, to some extent, mourn), I took her out to dinner last weekend. When the bill came, I quickly grabbed it, telling her it was my treat. “But I had two glasses of wine!” she lamented, quite emphatically I should add. “I can’t let you spend that much money on me,” she opined; her protestations fell on deaf ears, and I ultimately paid the entirety of the bill.
But the episode got me thinking about the money we spend on our friends. Whether it’s for a birthday party, a wedding gift, or a baby shower, the generosity we show to our friends says a lot about us – not only how we value money, but also how we value the people in our lives.
As a rule, we do not exchange birthday gifts in my husband’s family. Between him, his three siblings, and all four of their spouses, it became just too costly along the line to send gifts to the whole lot. For years, we’ve exchanged cards and nothing more.
But over the past two years, I’ve become far closer to my youngest sister-in-law than I am to anyone else in the family. When she celebrated her birthday – which overlaps with the Christmas holidays, making it easy for people to overlook her special day – I decided to send her a small egift certificate along with her card. The sound of gleeful surprise was evident when she called to thank me.
“You didn’t have to do that!” she exclaimed over the phone.
“I know,” I told her. “But I wanted to show you how much I value our relationship.”
The gift card wasn’t much – just $10 – but it allowed me to say something, for whatever reason, I hadn’t been able to express in words: that I loved her.
A few months ago, I was in a friend’s wedding party. When I asked her what she wanted for a wedding gift, she assured me that my presence standing beside her was more than enough.
Maybe for her. But I knew just how special a day it was for her, and wanted to give her something to commemorate it.
I dug into my files and found a picture of us on my wedding day, almost eight years ago. I had it printed out – the 5×7 only cost me a dollar or two – and then placed it in a double-frame, leaving room for a picture of the two of us on her big day. In all, the gift cost me less than $20, but it’s one I hope she’ll cherish, as a reminder of the longevity and depth of our friendship.
Jessica has been my closest friend for the past few years. Whenever I need a helping hand or a shoulder to lean on, she’s there. She is, without a doubt, the most giving, caring person I’ve ever known.
So when she learned she was expecting her second child, I decided to throw her a surprise baby shower. Jessica and her husband are well-off professionals, and she insisted that she didn’t need anything for the baby. Still, I wanted to shower her with as much love and attention as she’d shown me over the course of our friendship, while still keeping her wishes in mind. I found middle ground by throwing a shower with all her favorite foods, but asked guests to bring gifts for a local battered women’s shelter where Jessica does some volunteer work. She was touched by the generosity we showed not only to her, but to a cause so near and dear to her heart. I spent a couple hundred dollars on the day – far more than I would have on a shower gift – but it was my way of showing her exactly how much I value her presence in my life.
The Value of Friendship
Of course, putting a value on a friendship or other relationship doesn’t have to mean spending money. You can show your friends you value them in a variety of low- and no-cost ways – taking a walk together, going window shopping, inviting her to dinner at your house.
In what ways do you show your friends how important they are to you?