By Diane Gage Lofgren
My friend Sidonie attended a new toastmaster group recently and was asked to give a talk on holiday spirit. As she prepared, her mind instantly went to the antithesis of good cheer and right to Scrooge!
Sidonie gave a CliffsNotes version of the Christmas Carol classic:
— Dec. 24: Ebenezer Scrooge, a very rich, miserly, grumpy old man is visited by his dead business partner, Marley, who warns Scrooge that if he doesn’t change his ways, he’ll share Marley’s fate. Throughout the night, Scrooge has three visitors who hammer home the point.
— Dec. 25: Scrooge awakes a changed man. Giddy, he sends his employee, Bob Cratchit, a huge goose, then parties the day away with his nephew and his nephew’s wife.
— Dec. 26: Still giddy, he gives Bob Cratchit a huge raise and promises to pay for Tiny Tim’s medical care.
Then she outlined three take-aways.
1. You’re never too old to change. Scrooge went from a miser to a philanthropist overnight.
2. Giving to others benefits the giver as much or more than the recipient.
3. Everyone needs friends like Marley who care enough to tell you the hard truth and help you get on the right path.
Who is your Marley? Ah that spinach-in-your-teeth kind of friend. The individual in your life who loves you enough to want you to be the best you possible and is willing to be candid yet kind.After Sidonie shared her speech highlights, she asked me if I would be her Marley. As a single woman, she said she doesn’t have the same kind of daily feedback that married people may get when living with each other. She was looking for someone who would tell her that that habit of hers is a bit annoying. Or that her response yesterday really came across as rude. And even that that new pair of jeans fits perfectly!
Wow. I said yes, of course, and asked her to reciprocate.
Yet, even though I readily accepted the new role, I knew that I just made a serious commitment. Did Sidonie really want the unvarnished truth? Would I need to be careful how I phrased things? What if I hurt her feelings? Would I lose a fabulous friend?
And in turn, what if Sidonie said something that hit a sensitive nerve in me? Would I be open enough to take in the feedback without taking it out subliminally on the messenger? Am I mature enough, evolved enough, to handle the unfiltered truth?
And so, we are on a journey to be each other’s Marley. Wish us luck — and hopefully soon I can report back on how well it’s going!