Not even the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can take away the true spirit and intention of the annual National Friendship Day. The entire nation is being asked to remember and participate in the 9th Annual National Friendship Day on Wednesday, November 25.
What is National Friendship Day?
Since November 2011, this special day is held on the fourth Wednesday of November each year to promote friendship. The official purpose of National Friendship Day in The Bahamas, as stated by the Bahamas Friendship Council: “National Friendship Day is designed to rekindle or cultivate and inspire long-term friendship relationships among the citizens and residents of The Bahamas. It is another avenue to rejuvenate a spirit of togetherness, respect for one another, unity and a healthy national pride. The goal is to develop in each individual, the responsibility to restore and keep The Bahamas a friendly nation.”
If there is a time that all residents of The Bahamas need to be more understanding, caring, compassionate and friendly toward each other, it is now. National Friendship Day is a good time to remind everyone that friendship knows no boundaries, nationality, color, language or creed. Therefore, although we are practicing physical distancing due to COVID-19 to keep ourselves healthy, there are countless ways to keep emotionally close, and even make new friends. This is a good time not to allow ourselves to forget someone just because we cannot visit or see them.
Many have learned how to get closer than they have been before through online video church services, youth meetings, discussion groups, seminars, parties, concerts, family gatherings, etc. Even weddings and funerals are being conducted online. I attended two exceptionally large virtual funerals where the attendance was over 3,000 participants. We have no church in The Bahamas that can hold such a crowd. There are also official governmental, judicial, medical and educational virtual gatherings where important lifelong decisions are being made. Hence, what is stopping us from still having an invigorating and stimulating National Friendship Day in The Bahamas?
I encourage everyone to find a creative way to be friendly on National Friendship Day. Have your very own virtual friendship party. Make it a point to include someone you have never had in your physical home. Remember, though, that when you do go outdoors for legitimate reasons, to wear your mask, do not shake hands and keep at least three to six feet apart from people. There is also one thing we all can do when we see someone on that day – and that is to wish everyone a happy Friendship Day.
Several years ago, I wrote this: “Friendship is perhaps the most important ingredient in a healthy family relationship and even national health.” Someone wrote: “The causes of modern social problems, from divorce to homelessness and obesity, are often thought to be based in areas such as poverty, stress or unhappiness. But researchers suggest we are overlooking something crucial: friendship. It would appear that our society is ignoring its importance.”
The point is, we must stop talking about being a friendly nation and start actually being one.
Far too many people in our country – Black and white, rich and poor – are friendless and lonely. Let’s do something about that on this Friendship Day.
Psychology Today states: “People without friends often experience the vulnerability of loneliness, that poignant state which many of us have felt at some point.” We do know that social isolation during COVID-19 is causing as many physical problems as the actual virus itself. We also know that when people reach out to each other during COVID-19, even virtually, it can make a big difference to one’s health.
Let’s work together to reduce loneliness and coldness in our country. Let’s become friends. Generally, all it takes is for us to show kindness and a caring spirit to all we come in contact with. We do not have to be intimate friends to do that. We do not even have to know the person to be friendly. Send them a Zoom invitation to a virtual friendship party.
Here are some suggestions on what to do on National Friendship Day:
• Be friendly and kind to everyone you meet on that day.
• Go out of your way to make a new, long-lasting friendship.
• Renew a lost friendship.
• Make it a point to go outside your comfort zone to connect to someone on that day.
• Help a neighbor to do something.
• Do something special for a coworker.
• Send a friendly note or friendship letter to someone.
• Give a cooked meal to a friend or neighbor.
• Send a friendship card (electronic or hardcopy) to people on your email/snail mail list.
• Have a corner or neighborhood friendship fun time festival/party.
• Have a friendship Sunday/Sabbath in churches during the nearest worship day to National Friendship Day. During that time, use the friendship pledge and friendship song as a part of the service. The sermon should be on cultivating and maintaining friendship.
• Have a friendship assembly on National Friendship Day in schools. Use the friendship pledge and friendship song during a special friendship assembly. Have a guest speaker share on the importance of friendship.
Every citizen, resident and visitor is being invited to participate in National Friendship Day – every warm-blooded human being residing in The Bahamas – Black and white, religious and non-religious people; every business – bank, hotel, restaurant, convenience store, food store chain, gas station, book store, hardware store, lumber yard, mechanic shop, laundry, community library, hospital, clinic, laboratory, legal firm, etc.; every educational institution – preschool to university; every government ministry/agency; and every religious faith center-church, synagogue, assembly, etc.
• Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org or call 242-327-1980 or 242-477-4002.