The Task of Gift-Giving

It’s my mother’s birthday. For weeks leading to today, I wondered what present I should get her. It wasn’t easy figuring it out.

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My dad’s birthday falls at the end of the week and I know he’d appreciate the book I got him. He’s always said he wanted it.

My mother, on the other hand, never says what she wants. And so I had no idea. I wanted to gift her with a surprise, but I didn’t want to stick to age-old conventions of wall hangers, posters, or ornaments that collect more dust than memories. I wanted to give her something that she’d use every day, something that would make her smile when she looked at it, and something she’d cherish on a day-to-day basis.

It was a nice thought, but I couldn’t think of any such thing.

I don’t know what my mother likes because she’s never told us what she likes. Even in my earliest memories, my mother’s always been the kitchen figure, with a floured nightgown and butter-covered fingers. Thanks to her I grew up knowing I needed baking powder for baking. Because of her, I developed a passion for artisanal cooking. And she who taught me to treat the kitchen as a place of worship. But everything she ever made in her kitchen was for us. Sure, she’d have a couple pastries, but even when she’s unwell, she’d push her boundaries to make our favourite food.

I didn’t think there ever was anything that’d justify my reverence.

So I asked her, instead. From past experience, I knew she’d only want something for the kitchen or our home. She’s never once wanted anything just for herself.

This year was no different. She asked for a lunch box to pack meals for my dad. I got her that lunch box, chiding her all the way. But then I also got her a pair of soul-comforting soft-soled slippers. Her feet has seen so many bad days, and no one deserves pampering more than mom.

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