Bridge to Terabithia
How we cite our quotes:
For the first time in his life he got up every morning with something to look forward to. Leslie was more than his friend. She was his other, more exciting self – his way to Terabithia and all the worlds beyond. (4.138)
Like the "new season" (4.15) discussed above, Jess discovers that his friendship with Leslie is constantly bringing him new things and discoveries. She brings joy and excitement to his routine and helps him get excited about experiencing life "for the first time." We can't think of much higher praise to give someone than when Jess says Leslie is not only a part of him but a "more exciting self" – that through knowing her and being her friend, he can get into "all the worlds beyond" what he used to know.
He was angry, too, because it would soon be Christmas and he had nothing to give Leslie. It was not that she would expect something expensive; it was that he needed to give her something as much as he needed to eat when he was hungry. (6.6)
In contrast to the commercial aspects of some Christmas-time gift giving – like May Belle's desire for the Barbie, for example – Jess's desire to give Leslie a gift isn't about displaying his wealth or generosity, or about feeling bad that he doesn't have as much money as she does. Something deep inside him "need[s] to give her something" – because he's her friend, he feels this compulsion to give to her and to make her happy any way he can. We never hear him describe what he wants for Christmas, we only hear him worry about what to get Leslie and how to show her that she matters to him.
He wanted to tell her how proud and good she made him feel, that the rest of Christmas didn't matter because today had been so good, but the words he needed weren't there. (6.23)
The power of Jess and Leslie's friendship is such that it can heal even big wounds and unhappy things like his disappointing family Christmas. Jess's family can't give him what he gave Leslie, or what she gave him. They want to help but they fall short, and that makes them mad. It's not easy or natural, like Leslie's excitement about the dog that Jess gives her for the holiday. Instead, Jess has to turn to Leslie to "feel" "proud and good" – the kinds of feelings that usually come from family but here come from a friend.