My Back Story

I sometimes feel cheated having a birthday right before Christmas month.  Only one gifting occasion, lumped as it is for practicality’s sake, you might say, so I am at least better off than those born on C Day.  Not really.  I feel cheated because I wanted gifts.  Even just one, with a bit of fanfare and a squeal of surprise.  Something I liked.  Something some friend or family intuited I need or obsess over or a boyfriend picking it out because it invites a memory, a moment.   Something I would give.  It doesn’t have to be anything expensive, just singularly meaningful to me, or to them in the way they regard my place in their life.   For instance, I gave a friend a clear acrylic box with silver metal hinges, rivets and lock.

something like this, only less fanciful
He had this treasure chest, once.  It was one of those carved wooden boxes lined with red felt, with brass hinges and lock.  He was toying with it, opening and closing the lid.  He realized I was watching and explained it is his “spare” cash box.  He had all these moneymaking goals at the time, working hard at it, to the exclusion of a personal life.  When I gave him the acrylic box, he is halfway through making it big, and I thought the box a symbolic step up from the treasure chest.  It’s sort of a reminder of how far he’d come, and how far I’ve come to understanding and accepting why “we” didn’t make it.  Of course, it wasn’t anything like a metal cashbox or a portable safe (uhh.. too expensive besides I’m sure he had one) but it’s the thought that counts.  I was gratified to see him speechless (for a change) and happy over such a little thing.  Years later, I found out why: he didn’t have much money then but tries his best to take me out, often to the best places he had heard of and pays for everything (matter of pride, too)…and everything comes from that treasure chest kept in the trunk of his car, his store’s weekend earnings in it.  My gift cleared up a lot so you could say it was a gift that gave back some.

Now I understand that may be a lot to expect from some people and not every little thing needs a back story.  Most folks would give from a template anyway: scents, clothes, toys, gadgets, wallets, bags, gift certificates, ang pao (good luck money).  Giving anything that touches skin meant an intimate relationship –don’t give perfume if you don’t want to get too personal with the giftee.  A hankie gift (in a Nanny McPhee sort of logic) may bring about a tearful event. 

There’s also superstition to consider: a pair of shoes should be “paid for” by the giftee with a token amount so there won’t be a falling out in the future.  Here’s my pair of Cinderella slippers (not glass, but close enough) which is a twin of my friend Szhy’s own silver pair.  We had a day at SM Megamall and at Linea Italia, trying on lots of shoes on discount!  She needed dress shoes for a wedding and since there’s a buy two get three offer, she gifted me with my pair (a jeweled Sergio Pagnini).  Its one of those spur of the moment gifts and though I have nowhere to wear it to, I love Szhy for it because I’ll remember our mall day every time I see them.  You see, my memory isn’t perfect but I do have a photographic one, triggered by a memento.  Then it all comes rushing back!  At any rate, I gave her a five peso coin for them, just to make doubly sure we stay best of friends!

Whatever the case, who wouldn’t want to get gifts? I am specially gift deprived.  Maybe its because growing up, my parents way of celebrating birthdays, Christmas and reward milestones usually involves a day of going to church, eating a special dinner in (or out, on occasion) or seeing a movie.  Hard up as we were, there wasn’t enough money left for gifts.  When you celebrate with food, there’s sharing, so not one particular person gets anything over the other.  As I got older I found friends who like giving stuff sans occasion: Bath &Body lotion or makeup or something from their travels... nothing wrapped, replete with commentary on how expensive and a must-have it was.  Courting men and erring boyfriends are better gifters but sometimes you wonder at what price. At any rate, any gift is welcome, back story or not! I just wish people would consider gifting more than a rushed shopping chore. For hopeless romantics and idealists like me, it is always the thought that counts.

P.s. This was in my draft box.  I forgot I did write, three in fact. So you'll get all in  one  whoosh! Am still adding pictures! The computer that connects to my dad's camera is fried. Something about misaligned motherboards and the Olympus XD memory card won't fit in most readers.   Thanks again!


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