I hereby proclaim February 29th, 2008 as the first Make Time for Friends Day. You needn't worry about buying cards, sending flowers or gifts, or spending money. By virtue of the solar calendar, you have received the gift of extra time and are free to use it wisely. Let me suggest how:
At various times in our lives, we have more or less time and need for our female friends. Women who are single, divorced, widowed, or retired tend to have more discretionary time than women who are involved in marriage, child-rearing or heavily invested in their careers. Of course, most research looks at groups and talks about averages rather than individuals so these trends certainly don't apply to every woman. There are many women who are married, raising their brood, or working -- and who have been wise enough to make female friendships a priority in their lives.
However, looking at the trends, you might easily ask: How will women have any friends when they get divorced, become widowed, or decide to retire, if they don't make efforts to maintain those friendships beforehand? You are absolutely correct in posing that question because research suggests that single women who forgo marriage are more likely to retain their close friendships over the long haul. In a recent post on her blog on the The Huffington Post, social psychologist Bella DePaulo and author of Singled Out states that based on scientific research on loneliness in later life, "...No group is likely to be less lonely in their senior years than women who have always been single."
I think I have one answer to reconcile the gap for those at-risk: This year, 2008, is a leap or intercalary year. That means that an extra day has been added to the calendar, Friday the 29th, to synchronize the calendar year with the solar year.
This extra day is a perfect time for Make Time for Friends Day. All you very busy multi-tasking women (me among them), take out your Blackberry, Palm, or conventional paper daybook or calendar and give yourself that extra day, February 29th, to catch up with one or more female friends---old or new--- who you've not had time to be with.
Take the leap and do it now! Think about the significance of friendships to your well-being, physical, emotional, and spiritual---and give yourself the gift of time with friends. My suspicion is that you may decide that one day every four years isn't enough---and it may become a habit.