Santa's Sticks & Coal

Copyright © 2008, John F. Raffensperger

Originally written in 1998.

Maybe you didn't know the true story of the bit about Santa Claus and all the sticks and coal. And why Christmas didn't really get going with Santa Claus until several hundred years after Christ was born.

When Santa was a young angel right after Creation, he started building his North Pole toywerks. He spent a lot of time planning how much inventory he would need for the approximately two thousand or so Christmases that there would be before the Rapture.

During his planning, Santa attempted to guess how much of each material he would need for toys, in order to give toys to two thousand years of good children. He guessed he would need wood, metal, plastics, batteries, microcircuits, bike spokes, oranges, and peppermint, just to name a few things. He just didn't know how much, because he didn't know how good or bad all the children would be. Remember, this was just after Creation. But he was a genuine toymaker at heart, and he had a great time planning music boxes, dolls, pocket knives, and peppermint candies. He was anxiously looking forward to actually building and designing toys, and he was excited about delivering them. That, he felt, was his occupation. Designing, building, and delivering toys to all the children at Christmastime was his calling, his commission.

Now God had ordered Santa to make sure that all good children received good gifts, and that wormy sticks and rocky coal should be delivered for all bad children. God's exact wording was, "Make sure that all good children receive good gifts, and that wormy sticks and rocky coal should be delivered for all bad children."

So of course Santa had to put in an inventory of sticks and coal for two thousand years of bad children. I might add here that the sticks and coal weren't the kind that you could put in a fire and get warm with. No, the sticks were muddy and wormy, the coal was really more like dirty rocks that don't burn.

Before the New Covenant, Santa had plenty of time to observe how good and how bad children are, since the world was started, there were children around, but Christmas had not yet been established. As he observed the children before the first Christmas, he noticed that kids weren't very good. The children were all a confounding mixture of good and bad, some very good with a little bit of occasional bad, some half and half, and some children that were really very nasty, with almost no good at all. So he entered into the perfect Presence of the Lord God Almighty and said, "Lord, how good do these kids have to be, exactly? They all do bad things one time or another."

The Holy Father simply replied, "They have to be good to avoid the sticks and coal. They have to be truly good."

Santa took the Lord at His righteous word, as he should have, and started stocking up on a lot of sticks and coal. He had to make a formal Reality Change Request for extra epoches in history, retroactively, just so he could get all the wormy sticks and rocky coal he would need. Mostly he needed some oceans and mountains to rise and fall a few times to get the proper amount of coal.

(You make a Reality Change Request to God when you don't think things are going properly, and you ask God to set things straight. Probably God already has it planned out right, but in His mercy He made provision for us to make requests for changes. A Reality Change Request made retroactively is when something has already happened, in the past, and you thought things should have happened differently, so you ask God to change something that has already happened. Most of the time God changes something you don't expect, and things work out just fine.)

Anyway, God answered his RCR directly, and Santa soon had more than enough wormy sticks and rocky coal. But what he thought would be a lovely toywerks really ended up looking like a rock quarry, with some slimy lumber at one end. He kept looking for children who were truly good, and do you know what? He couldn't even find one. With the way he read the rules, everyone deserved sticks and coal, and no one deserved toys.

Well, actually, he was aware that there would be one Child who certainly would be Good, and he made arrangements for appropriate presents to be delivered at the time, though he couldn't figure out all the details. This is a little off the subject, here, but let me tell you about the gifts he had planned for that one good Child. The Child was Jesus, of course, and the presents were gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These are all royal gifts that are appropriate to give a King, as Jesus is. Furthermore, it seemed fitting to Santa that the right people to deliver these royal gifts would be royal priests -- Magi -- from the Orient. Santa had it all figured out except the navigation. He didn't know how to guide the Magi to the royal Baby. People didn't have cellular telephones in those days, much less good maps, so they had to get around just by being clever or by being led by someone or something else.

So Santa had to put in another RCR to have a lion chase the Magi the right direction, or have them kidnapped by the Israeli Secret Service, or maybe even start a war in the Orient to begin a mass migration. Something had to be done to point the Magi from the Orient way over on one side of the world, all the way over to the other side of the world, to Bethlehem in Israel. Part of the problem was that only God Himself knew the time of Christ's birth. Everything had to be planned out sufficiently in advance that it would sort of be on automatic, in order to occur in a coordinated way with the very first Christmas, but without anyone except God knowing when it would all occur. This RCR was accepted by God, but of course because of the circumstances, Santa couldn't be privy to exactly how it would be answered.

Anyway, after a while Santa finally thought he had enough wormy sticks and rocky coal for two thousand years of Christmases, with some extra in case there were more than two thousand Christmases. The only good toys, if you can call them toys, were the gold, frankincense, and myrrh that he was to have delivered to the one and only Good Child.

When Santa sat back and looked at all the sticks and coal, he began to get a little upset. In fact, he was very upset. He thought that he would be delivering toys, and here he was going to be delivering sticks and coal to every child every year. He thought he would be designing and building joy and happiness for little kids, and here he was stockpiling misery. Instead of bringing blessing, he was bringing unhappiness and disappointment. The few things that he was supposed to give to the one good Child, he wouldn't even deliver himself, and he didn't even know when it would be. Not only that, but all indications were that there were at least several centuries to go before it would even get near the time for the Christ to be born, and all Santa could do was sit and look at all those wormy sticks and rocky coal, and imagine how two thousand years of Christmases were going to be badly spoiled for millions and millions of children. And he, Santa, was going to be delivering the spoiling. He imagined his nice brown and gray coat and his fluffy brown beard getting grimy from the dirt. When ever he scratched his nose he would get coal dust on his face. He was going to look like, well, like a bad guy. He guessed that after just a few Christmases, people were going to have entirely the wrong idea, and start thinking that Christmas was about the devil, Satan, just the way people were going to mix up Halloween in the 1900's, and they might even get Santa's name mixed up with Satan. Santa Claus was a very unhappy angel.

He put in a formal RCR to get the rules changed, so that he wouldn't have to deliver sticks and coal for all the bad children. He wanted to design, build, and deliver toys to all the children at Christmastime, which he had thought was his calling. God rejected Santa's RCR on the basis that in order to change the rules, God would have to go back on His own perfect word.

Santa once again entered into the perfect Presence of the Lord God Almighty to discuss the matter. "Holy Father, I have stored up sticks and coal, as You have commanded, to give all the bad children. I have no good gifts to give any child, for none are good, except I did get gold, frankincense, and myrrh for the Christ. But if I only deliver sticks and coal to all the children, everyone is going to get entirely the wrong idea about Christmas. Plus I am very disappointed that I am not designing, building, and delivering toys to all the children at Christmastime. Please help me."

The Holy Father invited Santa to re-read the rules with him. "Make sure that all good children receive good gifts, and that sticks and coal should be delivered for all bad children."

Santa wondered if there were some wiggle room in those rules. God said, "You must deliver sticks and coal for every bad child. You have observed rightly that no child except the Christ deserves good gifts. Every child deserves sticks and coal."

Santa began to sobbed uncontrollably. Not much wiggle room there.

God said, "Santa Claus, do you believe that I love the children? All children?"

Santa said that he thought so.

God said, "Santa Claus, what is Christmas about?"

Santa said, "It's about toys. Designing, building, and delivering toys to all the children at Christmastime."

God said, "Ah, my industrious servant! No, Christmas is not about toys. Before you get started on doing Christmases, we will have to get that straightened out. You are about toys, designing, building, and delivering toys to all the children at Christmastime. But Christmas is not about toys.

"Must I remind you? Remember the gold, the frankincense, and the myrrh? Christmas is about unloading all the death and evil of mankind onto one man, a man who does not deserve it, to satisfy the rule that for every evil man, a man must die. For whom have you stored up so much wormy sticks and rocky coal?"

Santa replied in surprise, "You mean that I am to deliver all the sticks and coal to the Christ Child Himself? The one good Child must be given what all the bad children of the world deserve?"

God replied, "Yes, that is what I mean. And after that you are to go back to the happy calling that you know, designing, building, and delivering toys to all the children at Christmastime. If you read the rules, we are not violating them."

Santa said, "How am I to deliver the sticks and coal to the Christ? To where do I deliver? When?"

The Lord pulled out a Reality Change Request form from under a very short stack of RCR's. "Remember your request about guiding the Magi? By the way, I commend you on that idea, getting royal priests. I have decided the Magi shall be lead by a star, a supernova. The physics isn't relevant now, but the chosen star is a bit short of mass, and has in fact put in a Reality Change Request" (here the Lord held up the other paper in the stack) "in order to obtain the proper amount. You are to deliver your entire inventory of wormy sticks and rocky coal to the core of that star. By the way, you'd better get started. Even at your speeds, it's going to take a few hundred years."

And so, Santa hurried back to the North Pole, explained quickly to the elves, and packed up the wormy sticks and rocky coal. The star was indeed far off. Santa doesn't usually have to leave Earth, except for an occasional astronaut that might be out on Christmas. At light speed (which is the maximum possible speed), it still took him several hundred years to get to the star. He delivered over two thousand Christmases-worth of wormy sticks and rocky coal, the same as delivering all two thousand Christmases in one stop, to the star's core, who joyfully received it. When Santa came out of the star's core, though, his gray and brown coat had been changed to white and red, and his brown beard was purified to white as well.

If you check your history books, Santa Claus didn't appear until long after the first Christmas. And now you know where he was -- hurrying back from dumping off all the wormy sticks and rocky coal, so none of you would have to receive it.