/The season of receiving

The season of receiving

The Christmas tradition and why it terrifies me


The holiday season is a special time during the year where collectively as a society we seem to band together to fight of the melancholy of winter. Lights are strung, carols are sung, and everyone is in the kitchen baking for big family reunions and parties.

SAd Christmas
Used under a Creative Commons license. Photo by Michael Dorausch

But one insidious tradition stands among the rest when December comes around, and it comes in the guise of a fat man breaking and entering households and leaving behind presents for everyone who mom and dad think have behaved.

In the grand scheme of things, the fat man isn’t the problem; it’s what he leaves behind.


Let me share a story.

When I was a wee little lad, my relatives from Washington decided to fly across the United States to celebrate Christmas at the family household. Our reunion was fun until Christmas morning, when I learned a valuable lesson that still makes me shudder every time I see a Christmas present.
When I was younger I had an unhealthy obsession with trading cards.  To emphasize the depth of my addiction, I had made a list of all the cards I needed for my collection to be “complete” and submitted it to the U.S. Postal Service for speedy delivery straight to Santa.
You can imagine my shock after rummaging through my presents Christmas morning and finding not one single pack of cards.

Slightly disheartened, I didn’t make much of a fuss until I looked over at my visiting cousin, who had received a few decks of trading cards in his stocking.
Hell broke loose. I had one of the largest temper-tantrums of my entire life. I cried, kicked, and screamed. I tried to bully him into “sharing” a few cards with me. All of this happened within a matter of minutes before my parents dragged me into the living room and confronted me.

I remember after the residual emotion died down I felt more miserable and ashamed than

I had my entire life. I apologized profusely to everyone at the household, but the mood in the house was dampened for the rest of the day.

I was the spoiled little brat who ruined Christmas.
The greed from that Christmas never went away. I still felt it every year when I reached at the end of my pile of presents, a little dark thought would slip into my mind with three words: “I want more.”
I’m not going to call for the reformation of everyone’s favorite holiday, but I think it’s time to take a look some time tested traditions and ask whether or not they have purpose in our lives.

People are quick to praise Christmas as a season of giving but fail to realize when you have such a season, a season of taking follows close behind.

Erick Fredendall