The Perfect Gift

Posted on December 16, 2010

Christmas is the season of giving – but it’s also the season of Giving Fatigue. The streets of Fibrotown are awash with perky people in cute outfits collecting for various charities. If they’re not tackling you in the supermarket, they’re knocking on the door of the Fibro. I get that they’re trying to tap into all the goodwill that’s washing around the place, but I can’t help but feel that the goodwill grows thin as December motors on. Stressed-out mum + smiley charity worker = not a match made in Heaven.

Even in the darkest moments of Giving Fatigue, however, there are some requests that make an impression. Perhaps it’s the politeness of the wording. Or maybe it just strikes a deep, family chord.

When the Australian Red Cross Blood Service got in touch to let me know about their Christmas campaign, the resonance was there. Five years ago, Opa, The Builder’s father, lost his battle with cancer and went to what the boys refer to as Opa’s Special Garden in the sky. It is there that he rumbles about with a wheelbarrow, creating the thunder, alongside the angels.

Amongst the mementos of his long and interesting life is a framed certificate. Plain white paper, beautiful copper-plate script. A red cross at the top. It is the certificate he was given for donating blood 100 times. A name, a date, plain words  outlining his achievement. But it’s poetic. It says a lot about honour, community and general caring. It says a lot about the man.

I love that certificate. I love what it says about Opa.

Giving blood is giving the gift of life. It’s also giving a legacy. That’s pretty much the perfect gift.

Details of the Australian Red Cross Blood Service’s Perfect Gift campaign are here


  1. Stacia

    I love the idea of Opa up there making thunder with the angels. Isn’t that what we all hope for, in the end?

  2. River

    I used to give blood on a regular basis, but these days I take too many different medications for various things, so they don’t want mine anymore.

  3. Lori @ RRSAHM

    Wow. This post is amazing, Al. My grandfather died when I was just two- I barely remember him. But just weeks before he passed away, he received one of those certificates too, for 100 blood donations. It meant so much to him.

    I used to donate blood on a very regular basis, four times a year, and was a registered bone marrow donor as well. I was diagnosed with a heart condition a few years ago, so I can’t donate anymore, and I hate it.

    Lovely post. Thank you for writing it, getting it out there.

  4. Ofthesea

    I got turned down the last few times I tried donating blood, probably because I’m a tattooed lady from the banana lands. I’ll give it another shot, who knows?

  5. Miss Ruby

    Another who isn’t allowed to give blood anymore.

    Beautiful post…


  6. Karen Charlton

    This post made me weepy. Beautifully written. I haven’t given blood for a few years: too pregnant, too often. Now I am free to do it, I think I will. Thanks for the beautiful, tender reminder of how delicate our lives are.

  7. Rachel

    I gave blood once and passed out… I wish I was as brave as Opa ..sadly Im not …

  8. Mummy's Brain

    The Red Cross do some great work… beautiful post as always.
    Merry Christmas

  9. Being Me

    A beautiful way to remember your Opa. He sounds like quite a guy.

    Very timely reminder and I agree: giving fatigue happens in the latter days of December.

  10. Corinne – Daze of My Life

    What a lovely post.

    I’ve been a regular blood donor since I was 16. It’s such an easy thing to do, yet such an important one.

    You’ve inspired me to go and donate next week.

  11. Sbragdon

    thanks for my first comment…

    Sounds like Opa was/is a great roll model!

  12. Marion Williams-Bennett

    This is so beautiful “Opa’s Special Garden in the sky” Look up and you can see it!

    Donating blood is such a life-giving gift, but I forget about how important it is, and how easy.

    thanks to you and to Opa for the reminder!

  13. •´.¸¸.•¨¯`♥.Trish.♥´¯¨•.¸¸.´•

    Lovely post about Opa…I wrote about the perfect gift too.
    I didn’t think to write about my Dad (RIP) who also inspires to give blood regularly – he received many mnay donations for his leukemia treatment.

  14. Maxabella

    As one of the mad cow people I am ineligible to give blood. I was really rather happy to be ‘off the hook’ (so to speak) as I am terrified of needles. But I did try.

    It certainly does say a lot about Opa. I think that a life of quiet charity is a life lived with gracious honour. x

  15. Kristy

    Ever since pregnancy and some other things, I am no longer deathly afraid of needles! This is a good reminder. Should give blood. Happy FlogYoBlog!

  16. Deer Baby

    Beautiful post about Opa.

    That reminds me I should give blood again.

  17. MultipleMum

    I tried to give blood last Tuesday at work (hospital). Unfortunately, I discovered I am in fact anaemic and my less than par haemoglobin levels do not cut it in the world of blood donation. I am busily storing iron so I can go back in 6 months and have another crack. I didn’t know that about Opa. What a dude!?

  18. mamabook

    Lovely image of Opa’s Garden in the Sky. And you writing this post beautiful way to honour his legacy.

  19. Lucy

    Very frustratingly, I am not allowed to give blood – something to do with living in the the UK in the 1980’s and ’90’s, I think? BSB perhaps?

    Altough, I might go and check, just in case the rules have changed…

    (And Opa sounds like he was a lovely character.)

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