Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A different Christmas story

This is one of those family stories that gets told while the one person who the story is about cringes and tries not to appear angry.

When my older brother Tim was 8 or so, he had a particularly rough year, behavior wise. (I think he might have been diagnosed as ADHD today.) Thus my mother thought it would be the height of amusement to put a lump of coal in his stocking that year. The rest of the family talked and tittered behind Tim's back for weeks. How clever, how funny, how he deserved it.

My oldest brother, Don, snuck out of the house one night and rustled up a lump of something that was probably asphalt, but close enough, and into Tim's stocking it went.

I thought this was pretty funny back then, but secretly i was glad that it wasn't me who was in line for this humiliation. My 6 year old self's laughter was mostly from relief, as well as from the joy of being included on the "right" side of this joke.

Tim's reaction is lost in my memory to my excitement of a Christmas morning. I know he got all his other presents, but my mother had sent a powerful message. When i think if it, i feel ashamed of my part in it, even though i was 6.

31 comments:

luckyzmom said...

Very cruel indeed. I don't think that I would have thought so when I was 6 either, just relieved as you were.

QT said...

It would be one thing if she popped up at the last second with a "Just Kidding!" real stocking with all the trimmings, you know?

Mignon said...

That's mean. I want to hug that little guy. Did he have a crew cut? Somehow, it just seems like something that would happen to a little guy with a crew cut.

Maddy said...

I'm missing something? Do you mean that the lesson about the coal came from your mum?
Best wishes

This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"until blogger comments get themselves sorted out.

furiousBall said...

that's still not as bad as the human hand i gave my sister one year.

just kidding most likely.

meno said...

luckyzmom, yeah, my mom was scary.

qt, not that i remember. I clealy remember the glee that she did this with though.

mignon, of course he did. A crew cut and some crooked teeth, and a tongue that stuck out whenever he was concentrating.

maddy, it was my mom's way of telling him that he was bad.

furious, was it your hand? Someday i'll have to tell you the story about my uncle and the arm.

pat said...

I feared that lump of coal every year..I was afraid to look I was so sure it might be there...

thailandchani said...

That does sound like something your mother would do. Yeecht!

flutter said...

really quite the piece of work, that mum of yours.

Gordo The Geek said...

Whoa. Now, I feel ill. What a horrible thing to do to a nine-year-old. :-(

liv said...

something tells me that bear needs poking. you were a little girl, give yourself a break unless you habitually give coal as an adult.

amusing said...

Very Charlie Brown, indeed.

Franki said...

Awwwww....

Tink said...

I once gave someone snowman poop...

But it was just marshmallows in a bag.

Maggie said...

that is a very sad christmas story. the fact that your mother instigated it i think is the reason you participated with glee and relief - she was leading the pack and you were only doing what six year olds naturally do, following her lead.

Telling that story, esp. in front of him, even now adds insult to injury. Poor dude.

Sober Briquette said...

Same family. Same retellings. Let's call off the holidays and go to Aruba.

Princess in Galoshes said...

My dad did that to my brother one year, actually. I didn't know he had, but my brother was furious on Christmas morning. (briefly.)

I really didn't feel that bad for him. He got all of his toys and trickets and material goods, and he had been going through a little PITA phase. He got over it very quickly.

peevish said...

Have you spoken to Tim about it since? Or is it too awkward to even bring up?

Don't carry it around too much, ok? Feeling guilty doesn't help Tim, or you. It turns out that your Mom taught you a powerful lesson that day. What not to do.

Oh, The Joys said...

I think we need a guest post from Tim!

TTQ said...

Nothin like lovin from the oven. Family's are odd. We do to each other what we were taught not to do others (strangers). And somehow because we are related that makes it ok....

meno said...

pat, did it ever show up? That was the first and last time any of us got one.

chani, it does sound like her doesn't it?

flutter, true enough. I think she has started to regret some of her actions, lo these many years later. But it's sort of too late.

gordo, i know. When i think about how he might have felt i feel ill too.

liv, if she ever brings it up again she will get that poking too.

amusing, Charlie Brown. I had never thought of that, but it does bring to mind "I got a rock."

franki, she could be a real meanie.

tink, i've seen that. It doesn't have the same intent as the coal. Plus you can eat it.

maggie, i don't really blame my 6 year old self, how was i to know any better? But as time has passed, it makes me more and more angry.

de, i am so with you, let's go.

princess, i think this was bad because we all talked about it for weeks before and years after.

peevish, i haven't. Maybe someday. And i certainly will say something if it comes up again. My mom is the queen of what NOT to do.

Jess, If he knew that i had a blog, i would ask him, but he doesn't.

ttq, and we are supposed to forgive. Not me, i can hold on to a grudge like nobody's business.

Lynn said...

At six, you can hardly be held accountable for the bad behavior of your mother. I wonder if Tim even remembers this incident...you might ask him, and tell him how sorry you are when you think about it now. Sometimes it helps to make amends.

Andrea said...

Being raised in the South, our thing was a bag of switches instead of a lump of coal. Though my mom threatened my brother with this option many times, he never actually got a bag of switches. I did have a cousin who did, though.

Irrelephant said...

I'm with Andrea--I heard the "bag o' switches" from my grandmere many many times, but fortunately it never appeared. I guess I was a good kid... *lol*

ms chica said...

I have to remind myself to keep my sarcasm restrained when I'm dealing with my younger nieces. They don't understand it, and it's part of what makes them beautiful.

Always know your audience.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This really struck a chord with me. My older brother once told me that when he was 4 or 5, before I was born, my father played such a joke on him. He came downstairs on Christmas morning to find nothing but a lump of coal in his stocking.

The fact that all his real presents were in the next room was completely overshadowed by his grief over being teased so cruelly.

It's hard to imagine what parents would be thinking to inflict such misery on their children.

Daphne said...

What a cruel thing to do. And laughing about it for so long before and after probably made him feel like he didn't belong anywhere. Did your mom always diivide and conquer?

Joan said...

I can't even imagine being 8 years old and finding a lump of coal in my stocking. Even if it was supposed to send a message about his behavior, it's a pretty cruel thing to do on such a wonderful and joyous holiday. The blame rests with your mom, not with you as a 6 year old.

Melanie said...

I grew up with ADHD not diagnosed. I felt shamed most of my life because it was IMPOSSIBLE for me to be like the other kids in my class... I wasn't capable of it.

This story is sad, and hopefully your brother bore it out well, and it didn't do any permanent damage. How hard it is to stand up when you are 6 and say, this isn't right. I hope my son can do that if he ever see's me making that big of a mistake in shaming him or someone else.

thanks for sharing this.

Mama P said...

Man, that is so sad.

capacious said...

Can't we go to Aruba AFTER the holidays? Because I quite like them but I like Aruba tooooooo.

Poor Tiny Tim. Mean Mama. Did he get anything or just coal? My kids would be so heartbroken if I did that to them.