My Best Gift Ever
by Michelle Rickaby
I’m not a fan of Christmas presents that cost a lot of money. I don’t get involved in the mall shopping hustle and bustle. I love to hear Christmas music and see all the beautiful lights but am not part of the billion dollar shopping hype. We’re always trying to think of gifts we can give that have a more important meaning than material things.
When I was young our family didn’t have a lot of money. The gifts we always gave were “Good For” books. This was something that we made into a card out of construction paper drawing Christmas trees in crayon on the cover. Inside the recipient would get coupons that would read “good for 1 hug” or “good for washing the dishes without fighting”. My brother, sister, and I would work together to figure out what we could write on our coupons that our parents and grandparents would like to redeem throughout the year.
As my children grew up I taught them about the “Good For” book. They would make up a coupon book to give me at Christmas that would include “Good for cleaning my room” or “Good for walking the dog”. These were actions they knew would make me happy if they were to do without being asked. Of course there were always coupons for free hugs and kisses.
This year I know what my present is. And I know it will have an impact on someone’s life.
About a month ago I saw a news story about a young woman who had Hodgkins Lymphoma. She had chemotherapy and her Hodgkins was in remission, but now she had a relapse. This time her only chance of survival was a bone marrow transplant. I saw her on TV at a fundraising run for Lymphoma. She had a few seconds to tell the viewers that she needed a lifesaving bone marrow transplant and that they couldn’t find a match for her. She was a 26 year old young woman with a beautiful smiling face. Her plea was close to my heart.
I’m a cancer survivor. I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma 22 years ago. My brother also had Hodgkins and died 10 months after his diagnosis. My bone marrow was tested and thankfully my cancer had not spread to my bones. I knew that if the cancer was in my marrow then I would need a bone marrow transplant. I didn’t have to go through that process of waiting to find out if there was someone out there who was willing to share theirs with me.
I talked about this with my adult children. I said that my wish was that every healthy person I knew be on the bone marrow registry. If they were a match it would be a bit inconvenient and might hurt a little but they would have the chance to save a life which really means something. They listened. A couple days later my daughter phoned me and said she got my Christmas present. She signed up with “One Match” Canadian Blood Services as a bone marrow donor.
I was struck by her gesture in a way I didn’t expect. The tears started flowing. It was a moment I was so proud of the selfless gift offered in my honor. Both of my daughters, my husband, stepson, and my daughters’ boyfriends also registered. If any of them get called I’ll be with them every step of the way but I know they will never regret the opportunity to save a life.