|Frosty the Snowman, with "two eyes made out of coal"|
Frosty is supposed to be a kid's outdoor project, right? The kids use stuff they have at hand to decorate the snowman. But who has lumps of coal lying around these days?
The answer is, really, no one. We don't heat our homes with shovelfuls of coal anymore. Not like we used to. Gas is cheaper, cleaner, and easier. Why would you trouble with truckloads of coal anymore? Unless you live next to a coal mine, it would be a big mess.
Why does Santa bring lumps of coal to naughty kids? Because coal is messy and the complete opposite of fun. Not only is it plain and useless (to a kid), it's also commonplace and related to hard work.
But what about charcoal? Those of us who have charcoal grills would probably not encourage our children to pull out a briquet and stick it on a snowman. It would also be huge - unless you want a snowman with bug eyes, it's going to look weird. You could break the chunk into smaller pieces, but it's going to take some kind of tool to make the pieces a usable shape.
This is a nice way to think about the social implications of changes in technology. We still sing about coal, and maybe talk about lumps of coal in our stockings, but what would we do if we really wanted to put a lump of coal in someone's stocking? Where would you be able to find a piece of coal - not charcoal?
Art supply stores?