Fiona turns one in 2 1/2 weeks. As always, being a parent, I feel two mutually exclusive things. On the one hand, it seems just yesterday that I was sitting at this same table, doing a jigsaw puzzle, when the first contractions started. On the other, I can’t imagine life without her.
That second thought – the inability to even contemplate a life that didn’t include her – is a particularly poigniant one these days, as we watch the families torn apart by the tsunami try to find their loved ones and, too often, discover that those loved ones are dead. What parent doesn’t picture themselves on the beach with their children, with the wave coming, wondering how to save their precious lives? Who can’t empathise with the survivors afterward, wondering where the family members they lost in the maelstrom will turn up? And for the locals, with no safe home to go to to deal with their grief, things are even harder.
So, since Fiona is too young to notice whether she gets a present at all, Martin and I would like to ask her friends and family to give her small gifts this birthday. She’d enjoy a rattle made from a box and some split peas and taped shut as much as she would some Super Magic Whizz-O Gadget with bright sparkly lights. So give her a small toy and a big hug, and give the money to the tsunami victims this year. She’ll never notice the difference, because the hug is what really matters.
And she has lots more birthdays to come, where we can all splash out on gifts for her. Would that the families of the tsunami victims had the same.