Satan Doesn’t Leave Presents Under the Tree

Santa Claus is taking over CVS. His two aisles of Christmas lights and plastic lawn elves have temporarily moved the loofahs I need to Aisle 15 and “Jingle Bells” is starting to blare. But while most would feel cheer at these signs of upcoming consumerism, when trudging through the overwhelming displays of red and green, I felt the spirit of the Grinch growing.
Thousands of Santa’s loyal elves — my little sister being one of the most dedicated — are aghast: “How could you hate Christmas?” First, it’s actually not that hard if your favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. Plus, my little sister makes sure it’s Christmas year-round, blasting her “Santa Baby” and “Winter Wonderland” in July and dressing the seven-foot-tall tree with my mother every year before Halloween hits. Santa would be so proud.

Another reason I hate Christmas, might be the fact that I discovered Santa Claus wasn’t real at the tender age of eight. It began on a cold night in December 1999. Like every other 8-year-old, I couldn’t stop myself from counting and recounting the star-covered wrapping paper underneath the tree. When my mom finally told me I could unwrap my gifts, I make a run for it, attacked the biggest one, but to be polite, opened the card first.

The envelope read: “From Satans.” Even without a Christian upbringing, it was pretty obvious that the devil didn’t go around dropping off kits of 150 gel pens to 8-year-old girls.

Then the card was signed, “Love, Mom and Dad.” You can tell by my last name that I’m Asian, and according to the stereotype, my mom can’t spell English for shit. She also forgot that “Mom and Dad” is supposed to replace “Satans” on the card.

So maybe this holiday bitterness stems from not having a normal American childhood, but deep down, I know that one simple, if slightly scarring, blunder won’t overshadow the years my mother struggled through reading bedtime stories to me in English — and because my 5-year-old self kept correcting her pronunciation, she began saving up to buy every Disney movie that came out (thanks Mom, I love you)so I could learn English without an accent. And when my rice and seaweed lunches made me the brunt of jokes, she packed sandwiches stacked high with turkey, ham, lettuce and tomatoes.
So even if I’m not a huge fan of cutting out a thousand paper snowflakes, I’ll suck it up and help my sister decorate the house while joining in on the “Twelve Days of Christmas.”

Not all Christmas traditions are bad. I mean, who else is going to eat the cookies my sister leaves out for Santa every year? To survive the holidays, I’ll embrace the “Christmas spirit” and remind myself that it’s not about the insane amount of cheer I have to force each year or the incredibly annoying songs. It’s about spending time with the family — something that’s become more rare as I grow up.

Maybe this year, Mom’ll get a present from “Satan” signed “Love, your daughter… the older one.”

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