My mother was diagnosed with cancer.
The doctors were not optimistic; the cancer cells had already spread and she would have to begin chemotherapy soon after she had recovered from the surgery.
It was sudden. It was traumatic. It was – and still is – so tough to know that you are unable to help your own mother. I cried so much but always while hiding, while trying to sleep, while having a shower. I thought I shouldn’t cry in front of my mother. I thought it would devastate her to see me crying. So I learned to hide my tears well. Even today, I am not sure this was the best thing to do. But that’s what I did.
Can’t remember when exactly but I had this idea of creating a unique Christmas present for my parents because this year they needed as much love and affection as they could get. Taking inspiration from the advent calendar, I thought of creating a personalised advent calendar for them which would consist of small presents, inspirational quotes and prompts to activities that they could do together. Thanos, my husband and Eriketti, my sister helped me make this special advent calendar a reality.
We made a list of 25 unique presents and once we had gathered all of them, we wrapped them up and numbered them so they could open them in order.
The material presents consisted of Christmas decorative stickers for the windows, Christmas tree decoration, a reindeer, lavender sachets for their closets, aromatherapy sticks, herbal tea with saffron and ginger, curcuma and estragon with details about their benefits and how they can be used for cooking.
The activities were really fun as well, not only for my parents but also for the entire family. For example, there was a “play day” when we gathered as a family around the fireplace and we played various games. We had never done that before and I absolutely loved it. Seeing my mother laugh out loud was so precious. Seeing how bravely she was fighting was a life lesson I will never forget.
On another day, the activity was for them to go out with the car, as my mom hadn’t fully recovered from the surgery and she had to stay at home for a few weeks.
Which reminds me to be grateful for every single day that we can go out for a walk. It’s a blessing. Being able to feel the ground under your feet is a blessing. Smelling the flowers and the rainy grass is a blessing. Feeling the cold, windy air or the sun warming your skin is an absolute blessing. Be grateful for all these little things; in the end, that’s all that matters.
There was also a day dedicated to love. That’s when my parents decided to dance. I wasn’t there to see them dancing. I doubt that I would be able to suppress my tears. But I am so happy we motivated them to dance that day.
Preparing a yummy breakfast for them, that was one of my favourite experiences of all. We made pancakes and fresh juice and we laid out the table in a festive way. We sat down and enjoyed a very special Christmas breakfast together. It was precious.
I remember our mom saying to me playfully that this present was a lot of work.
A few months after, in November 2016, our mom became a shining star.
I shouldn’t have waited this long to prepare for them such a fun present, but I am glad I did. From that point on, there has been a shift inside me and I am opting for more meaningful, experience-based gifts for the people I care about whenever possible.
It hasn’t been easy to write this bittersweet post but I thought I should share my story anyway. Let’s begin the revolution of experiential gifts, shall we?