This happens to be one of the busiest times of the year, yet I always try to remind myself, in the midst of all the chaos, to slow down, reflect on how the year has progressed, and prepare for new beginnings. Through the good and bad one can find things to be grateful for and celebrate. The highs move us forward and the lows teach us about ourselves and sometimes steer us in directions that we should have chosen on our own.
Earlier this year I lost one of my grandmothers. For me she was always a symbol of strength and independence. Seeing her get weaker and slowly become more dependent on those around her was difficult. I am comforted to know that she is now a free spirit again, and I am grateful for all the years we have had her with us.
I am grateful for my other grandmother, my parents and my sister. Despite living in three different countries in three continents and no longer being able to share our day-to-day lives, they are the ones who are always there no matter what and who I know will always love me unconditionally.
Of course I am most grateful for our small family: my hubby and my Giggles and Cuddles. Though they sometimes give me a really hard time and test my patience to the limit, our giggles and cuddles and kisses and “I love you”s make it all worthwhile and more. My husband’s support and the confidence he has in me push me to try to be a better version of myself right when I’m on the verge of collapse.
As Maya Angelou reminds us, “Family isn’t always blood. It’s the people in your life who want you in theirs: the ones who accept you for who you are. The ones who would do anything to see you smile and who love you no matter what.” For that, I am grateful for my friends near and far: the ones who know me well, who are there to listen when I need to vent or who cheer me on to walk that extra mile when I’m about to give up.
Though we often complain about our overdependence on technology and how it somehow prevents us from really living in the now, I am grateful for how it instantly connects us to those precious people in our lives who are far away from us. The ease of communication, sharing pictures, videos and voice notes, bridges the distance a little.
Despite the challenges of fitting in, learning to abide by the endless rules and adjusting to the social norms, I am grateful for Switzerland and that we are able to provide our daughters with two homes, one in Switzerland and one in Egypt so they get the best of both worlds (hopefully). Being able to ski in the winter and enjoy amazing sunny beaches in the summer and knowing we can count on Swiss efficiency, which makes life easier, and experience Egyptian warmth, which makes life richer, are indeed privileges.
I always say that living in Switzerland, a country with one of the highest standards of living world-wide, spoils us. We are in many ways sheltered from a lot of what goes on in other parts of the world. Yet a visit back home, turning on the TV or checking the newsfeed, seeing deprivation and how millions of people are living an undignified life, I am reminded yet again that despite our personal challenges, we need to celebrate our lives – not just at this time of the year but every day. As I look forward to 2017, I think that the best way to do that will be to devote more of my time to help those in need. For, as Nelson Mandela said, “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.”
By Didi in Zurich
Didi is an Egyptian mother of twin girls living in Zurich. Before having the twins she worked in the field of economic development. She is currently a stay-at-home mom focused on the growth and development of her daughters.
Illustration by Laura Munteanu
Laura studied journalism and advertising, and has worked as a journalist and an illustrator. She has illustrated for magazines, websites, charity, and diverse campaigns. She lives in Zurich with her husband and seven-year-old daughter.