Gillian and her family had their first Christmas in Australia while her 19-month-old daughter Mikaela was in the middle of her treatment for liver cancer.
They were far away from their family in India, and far away from their adopted home in Adelaide.
After four rounds of chemo and nearly four months living in Sydney for Mikaela’s liver transplant, the family are now back home. They’re looking to the future, including celebrating their first proper Christmas in their new home.
In Gillian’s words:
Back in India, Christmas was a huge affair where the entire family would come together. On Christmas Eve we would go to Midnight Mass and then come back home to open gifts. After a late start on Christmas morning, we would prepare a huge lunch, in the same traditional way it was prepared when we were kids.
It is tough at Christmas as I do miss my family back in India – my mum and dad especially. I know they feel quite lonely without us too.
This year, my family and I are trying our best to organise flights for my parents to come to Australia for Christmas (they live in India).
They will fly into Melbourne, where my brother, sister and their families live, and we will fly over to join them for Christmas celebrations. It will be very special to have the kids’ grandparents there – they are very close to their grandparents – we saw them so often when we were in India, we basically lived with them. The kids miss them a lot.
For Christmas, my kids and I will make sweets with my parents. They are the same sweets that we made back home when I was a little girl. We’ll make cheese straws, kulkuls, coconut ice sweets… lots of things!
We have a big tree and lots of decorations at home this Christmas. It’s really important for my son Luke and he gets so excited at this time of year, Mikaela too as she gets older. Mikaela’s diagnosis came on Easter Monday and Luke had been really excited about having an Easter egg hunt, which never happened as things were so crazy. Ever since then we have tried to make these moments extra special for our kids. They are times that they look forward to and remember.