Why Santa Gives Lumps of Coal
There once was a little boy named George Greeley. George started out okay - but somewhere he started to get the idea that he should be given anything ( and everything ) he wanted. That's when things started to go bad for little George. By time George was eight years old, he had a new name: Greedy George Greeley. When he went to school, the other kids would greet him, "Hello Greedy George Greeley. How are you today, Greedy George Greeley?"
Greedy George always tried to get the things that belonged to the other kids. He wouldn't steal, of course - Greedy George wasn't dishonest. He was just, well ... greedy! So he'd beg. "Can I have that pencil? Huh? Huh? Can I please? Please give me your pencil - you have two nice ones and I haven't any." When the other kid would finally break down and give Greedy George one of his pencils, George still wanted more. "That other pencil you have there sure is nice. It sure would be nice if I had a set of them. Will you give it to me? Huh? Huh?"
George got greediest of all at Christmastime. The first year he wrote a letter to Santa: "Please give me these ten items," he said. Santa wanted to please George, so he gave him as many as he could. The next year, George sent another letter: "I want thirty-two things for Christmas. Here's a list." That's sure a lot of things George Greeley is asking for," Santa thought. "I can't possibly give him thirty-two. I hope he'll be satisfied with twenty-five. I don't want him to thing old Santa is stingy or anything."
The next year George sent a letter that was so fat it took five stamps! "Dear Santa," it said. "You didn't give me everything I wanted last year. It made me real sad. I cried all Christmas day, and all the next day too. I know you don't like children to be sad. Please bring me these 112 toys this year and I'll feel better." That's when Santa realized George Greeley wasn't just plain George Greeley anymore. He'd turned into Greedy George. "I'm going to give that twerp a lump of coal this year!" Santa said. “Take him 112 toys! The nerve! Humph!” ( Even Santa gets upset sometimes.)
That year Santa didn’t take a single toy to Greedy George Greeley. All he gave him was one dirty lump of coal. “Maybe that will cure Greedy George of his greediness,” Santa said to himself. And it did! The next year George sent a letter to Santa: “Please, if you will, dear Santa, give me this one toy this Christmas. “Santa smiled to himself and gave George two toys that year. And George was never greedy again.
George lived long ago, but children still get too greedy sometimes. All they think about is themselves. All they worry about is what they’re going to get for Christmas. They never think about other kids. They never try to make sure that other kids will have happy Christmasses too. When a did turns into a Greedy George, Santa knows just how to snap him out of it. On Christmas Eve, Santa leaves only one thing: a big, fat, black and dirty lump of coal.
Letter from the American Bituminous Coal Association, in Author’s possession.
Untitled research paper on the use of lumps of coal in history, by Ruthie Johnson, Tuba City, Texas 1969.