A Holiday Tale

By Emily Smith

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Emily. Emily loved Christmas.She loved to decorate the tree. She loved to eat her grandmother’s sugar cookies. She normally hated her piano lessons, but not at Christmastime! Emily practiced extra hard to play “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” perfectly.

Most of all, Emily loved presents.

Every year, her mommy told her to be thankful. “Remember, dear, that some little girls and boys don’t have mommies and daddies to give them presents for Christmas.”

But Emily had seen the movies, so she knew better. Santa Claus paid special attention to orphans, and they always lived happily ever after.

Besides, Emily was pretty distracted getting what she wanted.

She never got a pony, and she didn’t have as many outfits for her American Girl dolls as she would have liked, but Christmas was still pretty sweet. She got a dollhouse one year, and the Beauty Barbie and the Beast Ken another year. During her tomboy phase, Santa brought her rollerblades and a basketball hoop.

As Emily grew bigger and bigger, Christmas grew less and less fun until, finally, one terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year, her parents bought a fake Christmas tree.

“I’ve had it!” she shouted. “I can’t stand you anymore!”

Emily was almost grown up, so as soon as she could, she flew from home like a young bird flies from its nest.

She went to college, where she read stories by a nice man named Karl Marx and made friends with interesting people called anarchists. They taught her to be angry about lots of things.

When Emily went home for Christmas, she had to go to the shopping mall with her mommy. The mall was decorated with lots of plastic holly and red ribbons. It was crowded with people who thought they were buying lots of nice things for their loved ones.

But Emily had read Mr. Marx, so she knew better. While her mommy examined wool scarves, Emily ran through the mall, tearing down the decorations. “F this capitalist B.S.!” she shouted at the top of her lungs.

Emily got in big trouble with the security guard. He put her in time out until her mommy could take her home.

Her mommy felt very embarrassed and was very, very angry at Emily. Christmas morning, Emily sat in her room reading blogs while her family opened presents, drank hot cocoa, and engaged in holiday cheer.

Another year passed. Emily hardly spoke to her parents, who were still very angry with her for throwing a temper tantrum in the mall.

Shortly before Christmas, Emily and one of her friends walked around the neighborhood near their college.

“F this bougie neighborhood,” her friend said. “Look around! The people just feed the capitalist monster!”

“Yeah,” Emily said very quietly. “Revolution.”

She was looking at a very pretty house. Christmas lights shone against the snow, and through the window, she could see a family eating dinner. They looked very happy.

Emily thought of her mommy and daddy. She had a funny feeling in her stomach. She realized that she missed them, and wished they weren’t angry with her.

As Emily gazed at the happy family in the house, full of holiday cheer, she knew how to win back her parents’ love.

When Emily went home for Christmas, she was prepared to compromise.

When her family sang Christmas carols, Emily sang along. (She remained silent during the parts about immaculate conception. It made her uncomfortable because she had just learned about feminism.)

Emily even helped her mom make sugar cookies. When her dad wasn’t looking, she stole some of his heavily-spiked eggnog.

Christmas morning, her family opened the presents Emily had made them. She didn’t want to feed the capitalist monster, so she gave them homemade presents: a sock puppet for her mommy, a wooden spoon carved out of fair trade bamboo for her daddy, and a ‘zine for younger brother.

They loved their presents. Then they gave her a present.

“We weren’t sure what to get,” her mommy said.

“We picked something that really reminded us of you,” her daddy said.

Excitedly, Emily ripped off the wrapping paper. Inside, she found a t-shirt with Che Guevara’s face on it.

She knew she wouldn’t wear it, but she thanked her parents wholeheartedly.

Presents or not, Emily had finally learned the meaning of Christmas.

The moral of the story? You’ll make the consumer binge we call Christmas much easier on yourself if you go with the flow.