Its been threatened many times but rarely delivered on. It is the DEFCON 5 for all parents at Christmas. Its the thing that is held over every kid who has ever been bad in the weeks and days leading up to Santa's arrival. You know exactly what I'm talking about, its the dreaded, "If you don't straighten up you'll get a lump of coal for Christmas". Now from all the stuff I've read it seems to be an old tradition from Italy where parents would tell their kids that an evil witch would bring coal to naughty children on Epiphany or around new years. That's pretty harsh when you think about it, on Epiphany of all times! I suppose that the tradition migrated to America and has now become the threat of choice for several generations for frustrated parents. My brother and sister in law have three kids and two are twins. They are 4 and are great kids but as anyone can attest 4 year olds can be a handful. Yesterday was evidently the straw that broke the coal barrier. There seemed to have been an incident in Target or Wal-Mart to get things to this crisis. So early this morning the joy of Christmas, the "unbridled averace" (to quote A Christmas Story) came crashing down in flames for my nieces. As my sister in law tells: it was early and dark with just the Christmas tree lights on. Payton the oldest (10) came prancing in looking for Christmas bliss, but the room was empty. the twins soon followed in like fashion, nothing. No barbies, no make up kits, no candy canes, no ponies or unicorns and no princess paraphernalia of any kind. There under the tree were three stockings, each filled with coal! I was floored that they actually did it! How awesome!
Then the tears came and Melanie said, "I've been telling you for three months that this might happen!" Payton said through her tears, "I know! I know! I'm sorry!" They all got their pictures made with their "lumps" of coal. But, all was not lost, Santa had come, after all the cookies were gone! The kids were then lead through the house till finally Christmas was redeemed and grace was shown. They all got everything they asked for and more!
I know what you are thinking, "That was mean!" But really if you think about it, it was a beautiful reminder of what grace really is. How many of us really deserve gifts at Christmas? I mean when its all laid out there those kids didn't do anything to earn the gifts and neither did mine. If I categorized and wrote down everything my kids did wrong this year, they would owe me, big time. But isn't it awesome what God has done for us. The idea of a gift in God's eyes is one that is not deserved. In all reality we really don't deserve Jesus, we deserve less than a lump of coal! But God's grace is lavish and scandalous. His Word is pretty clear what we deserve, an eternity apart from Him. But Jesus came in a lavish way, a most ridiculous risky way to give the world what it did not deserve, a life with a living God. Now that's better than a Wii or an XBOX 360! Merry Christmas everyone!