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Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?
~ December 30 prompt

These are all gifts: love, hope, re-discovering my zest for life, creating new dreams, yoga, nieces, unexpected friendships, teaching, writing, personal revelations and crazy amounts of healing… and this year contained them all.

I’m having trouble however, propping up just one and pronouncing it the “most” memorable. Most. Like, more than the rest?

But I’d like to share with y’all gift my sister gave to me in November.

She and my brother-in-law took their two little girls to meet his family in Morocco. He’s the youngest of eight children and his mother is now very old. So old and wrinkly, that my eldest niece was terrified of her and told my sister that my brother-in-law’s mother eats children. Hehe! 😉

As an aside – a few months ago my sister came back to me and it was a balm for my heart. Finally, she acknowledged that she hadn’t really been there when I needed her the most. It was good.

Back to the story… just as my sister and her brood arrived at the airport for their enormous trip, I found myself experiencing feelings of abandonment. She rang to say goodbye and I realised (doh!) she actually WAS leaving the country for a whole month!

Guess I didn’t realise how much I relied on her being around. Even though we’re now grown up and no longer living in each other’s pockets, sharing the same bedroom, making up games, writing notes that we’d crumple up and launch across the room from one bed to another, having crazy little girl fights and dividing that room in half while negotiating terms for getting to the door or the wardrobe (on one side each of our “halves”).

These days there’s no time with all of her motherly duties to be giggling while eating ice-cream together, going on mad-cap adventures to re-live the tap classes of our youth or gossiping about boys over hot chocolates. Our relationship has changed; there’s less time to speak as sisters and even less than that to spend alone, just the two of us. Nowadays, there’s stuff we don’t know about each when we used to tell each other everything.

And despite our lack of connectedness, I keenly felt her impending absence like the sharpest of knives delicately pressing against my neck, leaving me breathless.

I broke down on the phone in my grief and sorrow, and I felt her desperation and powerlessness as she sat there doing her best with two little kids in an airport and about to leave the country. There was nothing either of us could do.

She heard me, I know that much. And she put a lot of effort into staying in touch while they were away. And it was good.

Finally they returned and there’s that whole present-buying thing people do. Returning home with trinkets from far-off places as if to say: please accept this tiny fragment of my experience.

And you know my feelings on “stuff” – that I want less of it – not extra “things” to feel obligated to have and hold and retain, for what reason?? If there’s one thing I’ve made abundantly clear about myself to my family, it’s that.

Regardless, I was a gift recipient as I knew I would be and I wanted to be grateful. A couple of decorative things from my parents (who’d also been overseas at the same time), and a tiny little box – perhaps an inch square – from my sister. Well, at least that one was small!

As I opened the box (red, green and silver foil) I exhaled and share a bonded moment of telepathy with my sister. Huh. Inside lying on cotton wool was this pendant:

It’s known as a hamsa – commonly worn as jewelery and/or displayed as an ornament in Moroccan homes in to ward off the “evil eye”.

And it is beautiful, elegantly and wordlessly conveying all of the wishes that I know live in my sister’s heart for me: to find love and happiness; for life to improve; for no more evil things to cross my path.

I can only offer my thanks, though I can’t look at her directly because if I do I might start sobbing. I can’t share words or in any other way convey my understanding of what she was thinking when, in a souq halfway around the world she bargained for this small piece of silver. I get it.

One of my birthday presents a couple of weeks ago was a white gold necklace to wear the pendant on – I’d nothing suitable – and since then I’ve worn it every day.

It’s not because I believe it can really ward me from evil as such (and anyway, I don’t really consider evil to be an entity like that). Rather, I wear it because it holds the promise of our sisterhood, and her very best wishes.

I love it very much, because that is a charm I can believe in. And it is very, very good.

~Svasti

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