I don't know where this trait came from, but there it is :-)
Ever since I can remember, during my childhood days, me & sis used to take out coins from our piggy banks to buy birthday cards and gifts for Ibu and Abah when it's their birthday. We used to have these clay piggy banks, in the shape of fruits or animals like a rooster or a cat (certainly not pigs la). We'd be lying on our backs and shaking the the banks over our upturned faces while trying to prise the coins out from the slit using hairpins. This usually results in lots of tears and runny noses, as there'll be lots of dust and fragments of clay falling on our faces *achoo! sniff*.
We weren't allowed out of the house, of course. So we usually asked an aunt who lived with us, to buy the cards and gifts. I remember there were perfumes, ties, cufflinks, tablecloths, scarves. Now, I know our (me & sis) savings were a pittance, so I suspect most of the time, my aunt had to top-up with her own money, the kind dear. But I remember there was one time that we didn't retrieve the coins in time to buy anything, so we put all the coins in an envelope and gave it to Ibu as her birthday gift. Sweet and sentimental, I think, but pathetic :-P
In secondary school, since I went to a boarding school, I used to write letters to my friends from primary. Yes, snail mails. I used to try to make my letters as unique as possible, pasting pics of my fav artists and drawing funny dialouge bubbles on the pics, burning the edges of the paper to make an artistic design, even pouring talcum powder in between the folds one time to play a prank on my friend. I made birthday cards too, decorating with dried leaves, scraps of cloth, glitters, multi-coloured marker pens and such. If only I had put the same effort on my studies, I could've been a top SPM scorer *sigh*.
When my bestest buddy Millie went away to Dublin to further her studies, the sentimentalist me did something either stupid or 'syahdu', up to you, what you want to think of it :-) I spent hours practicing my arabic handwriting, then painfully copying down the Surah Yassin into a small booklet, for her to bring with to Dublin. She too, a sometimes-sentimentalist like me, gave me a crystal locket engraved with my initials, as a parting gift. She'd done odd jobs like laundry or gofer jobs for her brothers for weeks, to earn money to buy the locket.
During our student days, we maintained communication although sporadic, what with being busy with studies. But when we wrote, we really wrote. In fact, we used to send whole writing pads to each other, containing stuff we'd started writing maybe 2 months before. One time, we even sent each other a voice recording on tape, an audio letter, if you may. Whenever she's back home for vacation, we hang out as much as ever, even 'smuggling' her into campus to stay in my room while I went to lecture.
When I started working and hanging out with the gang, birthdays were always sentimental days. Gifts need not be expensive, just thoughtful, like a framed collage of pics of the whole gang, a favourite novel, a favourite cake, a hand-stitched handkerchief and the likes. And flowers for us girls, every year! Birthday gatherings were well-planned ahead of the actual days, and everyone tries to attend, which is no mean feat since there were 16 of us, staying and working in various parts of town.
These days, I've gone jaded, I think. Oh, I can still be nice and occassionally thoughtful, but I haven't done those things with the passion I used to have before. Perhaps the sentimentalist in me is in hibernation, waiting for the right time and occassion to re-emerge.