This is a repost of a short essay I wrote earlier this year, and published on Tumblr. This is the last of the articles I wanted to import from Tumblr, so now Tumblr can burn down for all I care.
My mother is a hoarder, and her large house is approximately 90% filled with junk. I have, on multiple occasions, given her origami models, either as gifts, or because a lot of it’s just sitting in a storage box in my apartment anyways. I later see these scattered around the house.
Intersecting triangles atop a stack of books, which is not inside a bookshelf, but in front of the bookshelf. A giant tessellation, leaning on the wall over another painting that has never been hanged, unreachable behind about six feet of junk. A pipe model hidden in the compartment between the front seats of the car. A flower box, inside an empty soy milk box, atop the mountain of junk that prevents the dining room table from being usable.
This origami isn’t doing a whole lot for me in storage, but whenever I see this I feel like I am actively providing negative value to my mother and everyone who lives with her. The only possibly acceptable gift is something that must be immediately consumed. Usually my brothers and I are the ones doing most of the consuming, and when we leave I assume/hope the rest gets eaten, and doesn’t just sit around forever.
Mostly, I just don’t like giving gifts. My mother hardly takes note. She is an unconditional fountain of giving.
My husband and I received 18 items this year, by my last count. I like the practical gifts like socks and shirts and jackets. I’m not sure what to do with all the tourist t-shirts–I can only stand to wear a fraction of them, and I still feel foolish wearing Hawaii shirts all the time despite never having been. Lately she has taken to giving me carved objects from Asia. Now I have a big dragon-shaped flute to add to the pile. My husband is relatively new to this and is puzzled by his two new books about the Kennedys.
This is why I don’t much care for sentimentality.