There was only event on my Mum’s calendar when we lived in Singapore. This was our Indian Holiday, our visits to her family in India. She returned to Singapore only to get ready for the next visit. She had a cupboard in her room where she collected every imaginable thing for the siblings and their families.
If anyone gave us presents it walked unquestioned into the Indian holiday cupboard and shut itself in. This included every single present we ever received for our birthdays, Xmas or New Year, medical samples from her clinic and the promotional freebies from the sales at the department stores.
When we finally packed to go to India, everyone had been accounted for by name and age, including the unborn babies who were arriving that current year, gender withstanding. Everyone had something.
She was the most unselfish human being that I have ever known. She courted thrift only to put something away. For someone else. Never for herself. She would come back to Singapore, after her Indian holiday, a whole lot happier and our bags light and near empty. I grew up with my mother thinking that gifts were never meant to be kept, or enjoyed. Gifts, were to be given away and shared. Gifts, were meant to be recycled as precious gifts for others.
It’s selfish to keep things for yourself, I was told repeatedly.
Susie, you must learn to share,
Gifts are meant to be shared.
This developmental aberration helped me enter an uncluttered state of Nirvana, later in life, with precious little to dust on shelves, giving away most of the memorabilia that I received or bought, if needed.
The stress of juggling this precarious act, so that no one was re-presented their own gift, must have had its toll. I have been mortified when caught out on a couple of occasions by my friends and my family who joke about it. Some of them, including my daughter, Rekha, gleefully scrawl my name all over my presents, in an obscene fashion, daring me to pass them on.