Year after year I’m tempted to do the unthinkable – leave a lump of coal under the Christmas tree.
Despite my many warnings that “Santa” and the “elf on the shelf” are watching (the white lie continues), my boys seem to be pushing the limits even farther than usual this holiday season. The threat isn’t working, and it’s pushing me to the point that I’m just about ready to donate the gifts and set out the coal.
And I’m not talking about the candy kind.
At 9 and 4 years old, one would think such threats would have them doing all things right – making their beds, playing nicely, avoiding conflict at all costs.
Not this year. In my book, they have been pretty naughty.
So then the question hangs…what would they do if they woke up to coal?
I have a feeling my friends and family would consider me a horrible mother to do such a thing, but maybe, just maybe it would get the point across. I’m not kidding (or rather, Santa isn’t).
It’s a long-standing tradition, this threat of waking up to a lump of coal on Christmas morning. But does anyone know of a child who has ever been the recipient of the dreaded gift? What impact would it have?
I’m getting tired of the threats. Despite our efforts for balance, kids today live such privileged lives, including mine.
Recently, we had our Fresh Air Fund child, Robert, come from the Bronx for a holiday visit. This was his first experience in a place where he was able to sing carols around a Christmas tree and see neighborhood lawns filled with holiday lights. He needed nothing more.
Seeing the holiday spirit in Robert's eyes gave me a new appreciation of how blessed we are and how spoiled our children have become.
I’m aware of underprivileged children having wish lists during the holidays. I’ve helped supply them with items on those lists – most consisting of basic necessities such as “a pair of boots,” “ a new shirt,” and “new socks.”
My kids roll their eyes if they open a gift containing new underwear. What have we done to them?
In my heart I don’t want to disappoint my children with a gift of coal, but I know I want to do a better job of instilling an appreciation for the things they are given.
Too many of us have gotten so far from the true reason for this season. Our focus is so much on "What do you want for Christmas?" rather than "What can we do for someone in need?"
As parents it’s our responsibility to keep a healthy balance and not let the glitz and glamour of giving get in the way of maintaining our children's appreciation for the real meaning of Christmas.
Leaving a couple of lumps of coal might just make the point.
Editor's Note: Jenae wants everyone to know that this week's column was inspired by this week’s sermon at Faith Church by Emmaus resident Pastor Joe Henseler.