This is my first Christmas without my mum.
She died in July of this year. She’d been ill for some time, but had stabilised somewhat in the hospital-level care facility she’d been in for the past two weeks.
After two months of quality time with her while working remotely, I left her side to show my face back at work, keep the bosses happy and reassured that all was well on that front.
I never saw mum alive again.
I relay this story not to elicit sympathy. I’m sure many of you have experienced this type of gut-wrenching grief already. It’s a sad, overwhelming and confronting fact of life at our age.
But for the rest of you, running around in a frenzy, stressing about what to buy, what to wear, and whether that Airbnb beachside apartment/house will really be as the ad depicts on Boxing Day, I want to say just one thing: STOP.
I used to be that guy, but you know what, it was all a waste of time, money and needless energy.
Because the most important gift we can give our parents at Christmas – or, in fact anyone you hold near and dear in your life for that matter – is the one thing that won’t cost you a cent, your time.
I know, you’ve all heard that a million times before, but I’m saying it again because I don’t see much evidence out there that it’s sinking in.
There is nothing I wouldn’t give back or sacrifice right now just to have one more day with mum, to see her smile, hear her laugh, hold her frail hand one more time.
She didn’t want a new computer, smartphone or even a new La-Z-Boy chair, for that matter. Those things never impressed her much.
Just a hug, a few laughs and the pleasure of your company, for however long you can spare.
We all have the priciest, most rewarding, and life-affirming gifts within us already. Mum’s face reflected that back to me each time I walked in the room in those last few precious weeks.
I just hope you realise that before it’s too late.