Saturday, December 28, 2013

The best gifts are not wrapped

I had a good christmas. I tried to wish for charity gifts this year too, but my family refused it. Instead I asked for stuff-I-use-every-day, school books and other such trivalities that I spend money on regularly. I got a lot of that but I also got an e-reader.

I've always judged an e-reader to be quite useless for me. I love paper books and always will, and for other things I use my laptop. Yet I'm quite enjoying this gift and now see its uses (especially for studying). It's small, and weighs little in my bag and is very neat and easy on the eye. But yet, I didn't feel as good this year as I did last. Last year I saw all the donation cards rowed up and I felt peaceful and happy. Utterly so - despite my dislike for holidays.

There are, after all, gifts which trumphs all other costly gadgets. Donations to suffering animals (or people, if that's your preference) are a gift like that. Yet some things even trumphs that.

In mid-december, when people are still buying christmas presents and curse over wrapping them, my dad met with his surgeon. They had already informed us that his chemo-therapy hadn't worked as hoped. The day before the surgery they also tell us that they are less than confident that the surgery will be possible. The cancer might be too stuck to things they cannot remove. After all the oncologist's hopeful remarks, they land this in our laps. It feels out of the blue. Breath-takingly horrid. Mind-numbing.

24 hours of terrible wait. Of not daring to hope. Of tears in the bathroom between classes because I can't speak of it without breaking down so I don't want anyone questioning me of why I cry.

A late evening visit at the hospital. Seeing dad in the hospital bed and hardly daring to ask how it went. Then a smile, and he says they got it out. That the surgeon looked more than pleased.

That relief. It was too big for words. Too big to even feel properly. There's no wrapped-up, bow-clad present that can outweigh that. No money in the world that can compete.

I know it's not over yet. I know it might still lurk, that there might still be half a year of new chemos, that it might return, regrow, have spread. But the future is brighter, more hopeful.

I got my dad for a while longer.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Five ways of receiving affection

There's a theory about people and how we receive (and give) affection. I read it some years back and it struck a chord. The five ways helped me understand people (and myself) better. For example when it comes to writing, I can't really "believe" people's praise unless they act interested; no amount of compliments make me feel as if they think I'm any good. What do you think about this? (see them below) I'm mainly an "Acts of Service" person - how about you?

The five main ways people can give/receive affection are: (copied from here but I saw them a long time ago and just needed to find all the definitions)

Quality Time – where you give each other 'undivided attention’ to talk, listen, eat together or enjoy a shared activity. With a young family you may have to grab small amounts of time together while you can, or you may prefer to schedule uninterrupted time when the kids are asleep.

Words of Affirmation – these are kind, affectionate, appreciative statements that recognize what your loved one means to you. Phrases that respect and encourage each other are also important. As is actively listening to what your partner has to say. You could do this verbally, and/or via email, text, letter, Facebook, or through sharing music, poems or phrases that reflect your feelings.

Acts of Service – this sounds very formal but simply means doing kind things for each other. Like taking on tasks a partner may not want to do or sharing household chores. It also involves showing you care - for example through preparing meals, paying the bills, and doing the laundry. This category is often the easiest one to miss as it is already part of our daily routine. Highlighting it is as a means of showing affection – and having that recognized and appreciated by a partner can make a big difference to you both feeling cared for.

Gifts – this might be an expensive present or something you have made. The idea here is to show someone you were thinking of them, you recognise what they do for you and you’ve paid attention to their likes and chosen something appropriate for them.

Physical Touch – could be shown in the form of hugs and cuddles; sitting close on the sofa or lying together in bed. Other touch people enjoy includes hair brushing, holding hands, massage (a hand, foot or head massage can work if you’re time-poor). This may or may not be sexual. You might find that time for pleasure has disappeared and finding opportunities to kiss, touch and reconnect physically may lead to you feeling more like sexual intimacy, or just enjoy nurturing touch without it leading to sex.