Coal, the dreaded lump of coal. When I was growing up I lost count of the number of times I heard the old timers threaten us “young whipper snappers” with “You’re going to get coal for Christmas!” It was a valid threat and we did everything to behave.
Well, most of us. You see, some of us did not actually believe that
our parents Santa would place a lump of coal in our stockings. Some of us possessed unwavering confidence that an enormous pile of presents resembling the likes of Mt. Everest would be under our tree Christmas morning. Why? Because NO one had actually ever received coal…at least that we knew of. We never returned to school from Christmas break and heard “I was bad. All I got for Christmas was a lump of coal!” We never saw a coal present. Therefore, we knew for a fact that the entire coal thing was a hoax. It was common knowledge that Santa never did coal. It was just enough to make us giggle, play nice with our stinky brother, and become indentured servants to our parents. All these behaviors were done conditionally for the ultimate behavioral payday – Christmas Presents!
While attempting to cash in on some indentured servants of my own, I tried the ‘you’re going to get coal’ line on my modern young offspring. I had a difficult time keeping a straight face while saying these words because…Coal? c’mon, who says, “you’re going to get coal” anymore? But desperate is as desperate does – so coal it was. My futile threat was, as expected, met with looks of “huh?” followed by the “ppfffftt, yeah right!” Wow, absolutely no effect. What has become of Christmas in 2010? No coal? The threat was not even mildly effective.
But ah, as I glanced to the side I realized there are worse things to receive in 2010 than coal. Things that will send shivers down the spines of my lovelies hurling them back to the 18th century. Things that will prompt them to inquire if I would like my ‘bath water drawn.’ Things that they know I am dementedly capable of placing in their stockings.