“so, how was your easter?”

Imagine being the sort of person who, when her sister doesn’t text to wish her a happy birthday until 35 minutes after midnight Gulf Standard Time, assumes that she must be on a plane to surprise her.
Imagine being right.

Eesmee and Cha on her birthday in Dubai

If you know me, you’ll know how important my siblings are to me – to the extent that, of all the ways I could possibly define myself, “big sister” is probably #1. And yet, there were years when my sister and I didn’t even like each other: me, the bookish introvert, with big glasses and a preference to sleep this side of midnight; sharing a room with a big-hearted chatterbox who’d make friends – or at least drinking buddies – in an empty room. They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but we’d bought houses next to each other before the sandpit beckoned.

As somebody who has more often than healthy treated depression with a credit card, booking a flight to surprise her on what turned out to be the most expensive day of the year, thanks to the lunar calendar, seemed like a no-brainer.

Eesmee and Cha do the Dubai Desert Safari
Eesmee and Cha at the Burj Khalifa Club

Dubai being Dubai, I’ll have plenty of extravagant, ridiculous and just plain extra experiences from the past week to share with you in the coming days: golden sand scrubs and 150-foot golden picture frames and dune bashing in the desert, all soundtracked by the songs from The Greatest Showman. But for now, I just wanted to talk about how great it was to spend some unplanned time with my sister (I mean, I’d been planning it for six weeks or so, but she didn’t know I was coming) and her fiancé, and about how the French toast and the card games and the time-delayed Saturday night television meant way more than any of the photo opportunities.

It’s also why, when Thomas Sabo and Very asked if I’d like to write about their Together Forever necklace* back around Mother’s Day, I told them I had a better idea.

Together Forever - Thomas Sabo at Very for a surprise birthday present
My Presence Is Your Present birthday card for Cha

The dainty sterling silver necklace features a white zirconia heart interlinked with a ring engraved with the words “together forever”. The idea, they say, is that it represents the eternal bond between you and your loved one. When I read that, I thought of my sister immediately: I loved the idea of her having a really pretty piece of jewellery that would connect her to me even when we were thousands of miles apart. I remember there was one night quite recently, when my depression was pretty bad and I was missing her more than usual, that I was looking at the website of the school where she works and saw that she was wearing the pink plastic necklace with her name on it that I had made for her a few Christmasses back in her staff photo. It’s not creepy when it’s your sister, alright?

Anyway, the necklace was symbolically the perfect gift and meant that I wasn’t showing up empty-handed after my unbudgeted-for flight expense. My sister will be the first to agree that my presence was her present, and that it was great to squeeze in a few more memories since it’ll be a few more months and some epic travel plans before she’s back on Scottish soil again – but sometimes you need a little love token to hold onto.

Bonus points to Jamie, Cha’s fiancé, who not only kept my secret (and arranged a lift from the airport for me!) but also tracked down the perfect pair of earrings to match the necklace. Cha was absolutely delighted, and wore them both out for a birthday dinner by the Dubai Fountain.

Miss you already, guys. August can’t come soon enough.

This post contains PR samples, but all views are my own and unbiased.