27th October, 2013-  My younger daughter’s 9th birthday. She had invited some of her friends over for a birthday bash – the bash she had been excitedly planning for over the last 2 months. So many questions had to be answered to her – Where to hold the party, What return gifts to give and of course who all to invite..

All the girl and boys had a gala time singing and dancing. The best activity of the evening was the collage of the party carefully made by all the kids (and now lovingly framed by my husband). This collage serves as a beautiful memory of  that wonderful evening.

My princess was truly happy and once everyone had left she came and gave me a big hug and thanked me for the lovely party.  I instantly knew the next question “Mom, shall we open the gifts?” She obviously knew the answer and hence, even without waiting for me to reply, ran out shouting to her sister “Rishika didi, come let’s unwrap the gifts.”

The two of them started opening the gifts excitedly… first the gift vouchers….. Landmark… Shoppers’ Stop…. Her favorite Crosswords… She said this time most guest have given books or vouchers as they know I love them. Continuing, she unwrapped a Monopoly… Oh God, we were already gifted two last year – one which has been re-gifted, and another awaiting its turn. The next one a fairy top.

“WoW Mom!This is just like my favorite one… Didi, let’s open this board game…Oh ! No… another Monopoly… Now we have three monopolies, which we will need to re-cycle.”

“Mom, I am sure now my friends will start calling me Monopoly Edhita bç’oz I keep gifting Monopoly sets  on all birthdays.” There was a sad look in her eyes but something was going in her mind.

She said, “Mom why is it that people keep giving us gifts which we may not like or which we may already have?” I tried to explain that it is the thought that counts and it’s okay because sometimes we also give gifts that others may not like.

She said, ”Exactly Mom, we are just doing what we don’t want others to do to us. Think about it, aren’t the best gifts the ones which are given by Mammu and Massi. They ask me what I want and then get them. I always cherish those gifts the most”

“Why can we not do the same for everyone? Why can we not ask my friends what they want and give them just that, so that they find it useful and do not get gifts, which they already have, or may not want.

I kept thinking about what my younger one had said and kept thinking about the registry service, which is hugely popular in the West. Can such an idea be accepted in India? While the practicality is definitely appreciated, will people be open to ‘telling what they want as a  gift’?

I kept thinking about how to make gifting more enjoyable and fun rather than just a ritual and over the next few days spoke to some friends and family members. Everyone had the same problem and wanted to change but  we are all waiting for someone else to take the first steps.

Encouraged by their response I narrated the concept to Edhita and Rishika. They were excited and said, ”Mom, this will be like Santa. Every year we write to the Santa about what we want and he gives us exactly that… Just imagine Santa coming on everyone’s birthday with loads of gifts. Imagine the   smile it will bring on everyone’s face.”

And that was the beginning of IndiaSanta – The curator of Happy Memories for Life.

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