Do bad girls and boys really get coal in their stockings? We had a fireplace in my home growing up, but not a mantle so hanging stockings wasn’t one of our Christmas traditions.
However, I always wondered if we did, would I have always found coal in my stocking? Was it because we were a stockingless household that Santa never brought what I asked for? Was disregarding my requests his way of letting me know I’d been a bad girl all year? (Again.)
I was no peach, I’ll admit. I could be a difficult child. Knowing what we know these days about special needs children, autism and the like, I wonder if I would’ve been diagnosed with something?
I liked routines. Surprises scared me and would often prompt tantrums or withdrawals. If I knew something was coming or my routine would be disrupted, I fared better. But spring an unexpected stop on me? Or my dad having to take me to school instead of my mom with no advanced notice? Expect major drama.
But I don’t think my parents ever did expect it. Did they brace themselves for the fallout, or did they continue to be surprised by my meltdowns and not connect the dots?
I’m thinking the latter because they never tried anything different, ie. a softer approach. They expected me to fall in line, and if I didn’t –which I didn’t– I could expect a major butt spanking. This was the 70s and my parents were old school. Discipline involved corporal punishment. Needless to say, I was well acquainted with the practice.
I never kept count of how many spankings I got each year. Did Santa? I always just hoped each year when Christmas rolled around I’d have been better and Santa knew it. Or at least he’d know I’d tried really, really hard.
But every year it was the same thing: Naughty List.
In the early years, I’d tell Santa my wishes in person at the mall. When I learned to write, I’d add in a letter. Because maybe that was the problem. He’d seen so many kids –from all over the world– he’d forgotten what I’d asked for. But if it was in writing, maybe I’d get what I really wanted.
Nope. That didn’t help either.
Don’t get me wrong. I got great gifts from my mom and dad. It’s not like I wasn’t spoiled.
But the big gift that was supposed to come from Santa was never the big gift my heart longed for.
So until I learned the truth about Santa, my biggest childhood fear was I’d never get off the naughty list. No matter how hard I tried.
And I did try. My resolution every year aimed for a No Spankings one. I always failed. It made me wonder about the good kids. How did they make it through a whole year without getting in trouble? They must be extraordinary!
And back to the coal…did the bad kids who hung stockings really get it?
Embarrassment prevented me from asking my friends. Plus, Santa always seemed to bring them exactly what they wanted. Who wants to admit they’re the naughty one? I sure didn’t.
But for years I feared: am I the naughtiest girl in the world?