By Jini Seok, Staff Writer

It was the same sickening routine every year – literally. For a good portion of my childhood, every Christmas Eve, my tiny kid-body went into overdrive with excitement to the point of malfunction. I barely slept or ate and sat around the barren Christmas tree waiting for the gifts to appear out of thin air. In fact I used to spend all my waking hours shaking, smelling, and using all my senses to guess what each gift was. So much so, my parents decided it was in my best interest to wait and display the gifts only after I’ve gone to sleep on Christmas Eve. So without any presents to physically obsess over, I directed all my energy into a newfound mission – to drive my entire family crazy. I bounced off the walls, annoyed my older sister, and refused to let my parents sleep. This would sometimes go on until 4:00AM. When my parents finally coerced me into bed with the promise of presents only after I slept, I woke up bright and early, often at 6:00AM, to once again grace my family members with my overbearing presence, like the little angel I was. Running off of two hours of sleep, I might have been close to being delusional enough to actually see Santa coming down the chimney. But instead, Santa came and left unseen, leaving me behind with the same gift every year. This gift consisted of a runny nose, a cough, and a fever – the standard onset of being sick. Somehow, every Christmas morning, I would wake up sick. After running on pure adrenaline for the first few hours of the day, I spent the rest laying on the couch, wrapped in a blanket, enviously watching my sister play with her new toys while I didn’t even have the energy to sit up. In retrospect, my family
and I find it hilarious how all my anticipation and excitement always led to a slow, sick Christmas Day, but at the time, I felt like I was being punished for some inexplicable reason. Don’t get me wrong, even sick, I always had a great Christmas, but I never understood why I got sick in the first place. No one knew. My family eventually diagnosed it as a consequence of my non-stop, overly-obsessive behaviour leading up to Christmas Day. As years went on, I started sleeping earlier and waking up later and began walking past the Christmas tree regardless if there were presents under it. I grew out of shaking gifts and sleepless fits, and I enjoyed Christmas Day with the rest of my family instead of laying in a puddle of snot. My mom jokes about it till this day – how Christmas-crazy I got, and how worried she was that she
was raising a materialistic brat. One Christmas, she sat my sister and I down in front of the computer and made us pick a child to sponsor for the year through World Vision, a humanitarian organisation working to help children and their families in need from around the world. I remember that moment more clearly than any of the gifts I got that year. I think that maybe being sick was a punishment. There is a morally enlightening aspect to a bratty materialistic child being unable to play with her new shiny gifts on Christmas. Maybe the lesson to be learned here is that Christmas isn’t just all about gifts and presents but about quality time with family or the spirit of giving. Or maybe it’s that if you’re a gift-obsessed brat, Santa won’t leave you with coal, but a cough.