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.