“The Evidence for Coal” Revisited

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There’s nothing quite like a good Christmas story. Perhaps you have your own memories of being read “The Night Before Christmas” as a kid and swearing you could hear footsteps on the roof. Or maybe your family sat down to watch Charlie Brown choose a scraggly pine to be the center of the Christmas pageant. Personally, I always looked forward to seeing the claymation TV specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. In any case, storytelling is a large part of the Christmas mythology in western traditions, blending old and new beliefs to create something a little more magical than our day-to-day experiences.

Back in 2016, Creative Colloquy put out a call for Christmas-themed stories, poems, and essays. I thought it would be a fun challenge to add my own twist to the generations of Yuletide fiction that’s come before. Set in the North Pole in the days before Christmas, “The Evidence for Coal” shows what happens when jolly old St. Nick and Big Data collide. It’s a bit of a satire of our data-driven culture and a bit of a reflection on why the idea of a man in a red suit delivering gifts to children around the world is so strangely compelling in the first place — nothing groundbreaking, just some good old fashioned Christmas fare.

This year, I decided to revisit this story, sprucing it up for my podcast on writing and the creative process, Dispatches with Jonny Eberle. I asked my friend William McDonald to narrate it and I think his acting chops really serve to bring the story to life. I can almost smell the hot cocoa wafting through the corporate halls of Santa’s workshop.

Ready to give it a listen? You can find the episode below or check it out wherever you find your podcasts. I hope you enjoy it and happy holidays!

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Jonny Eberle is a writer and podcaster in Tacoma, WA. His work has appeared in Creative Colloquy, Grit City Magazine, and All Worlds Wayfarer. You can follow him on Twitter, join his mailing list, and listen to his audio drama, The Adventures of Captain Radio, wherever you enjoy podcasts. Want to hear this blog post in podcast form? Subscribe to Dispatches with Jonny Eberle.

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