Devotional: May 12th
It is definitely that time of the year. My e-mail bin is starting to include mailings concerning Santa Claus and other Christmas traditions which are a tad skewed but tolerable nonetheless. Some are funny, some uproarious, some thoughtful and others, well, bless their hearts, I hope they like coal. Which brings me to my favorite Christmas tradition that has nothing to do with the Christ.
I can remember as children my sister and I being told that we had to behave or Santa Claus would put a lump of coal in our stocking. Recently, on "According To Jim," the youngest of the children on the sitcom was shocked to find out that, if he was bad, he was going to get a lump of coal in his stocking. All through the half hour program he kept asking, "What's coal?"
Time was that children knew what coal was. There was a pile of it someplace on the property and someone shoveled it and put it into the furnace to fuel the heat for the home. Coal even became the subject of many pranks as people would come home from a hard day at work to find several tons of coal parked on their front lawn and a receipt from the coal company for a phone order.
Coal was able to provide heat for the house but it was dirty to handle and dirty to clean up. Oh, and if the furnace "belched" you had coal soot throughout the house. So it stood to reason that if you were bad a dirty old lump of coal would be the perfect substitute for a present in a stocking. Substitutes are never liked anyway, so any substitute would be bad. Which brings me to my point.
All those who feel that they don't want Christ "shoved down their throats at Christmas", as one wag put it, may substitute something for presents this year. Instead of giving presents my suggestion would be to give their family this little disclaimer. "This year you will learn what principles are. Since we don't believe in Christmas we are taking a pass on its tradition of gift giving." The rest of you may go ahead and follow the tradition of a birthday and present gifts to your family as Jesus received gifts (Matthew 2:11).
Meanwhile, anyone know who delivers coal in this area? I have a couple of phone calls to make.
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