The modern-day lump of coal from Santa was a wooden block and a vulgar message in a PlayStation box for one little boy on Christmas Day.
All 9-year-old Scott Lundy, of Massachusetts wanted for Christmas was a PlayStation 4.
But when he opened the gift from his parents, he found nothing but a gaming console-shaped block of wood and a rude message scrawled in pencil.
Scott's dad Brian told Fox News that when his boy was given the gift he screamed: "This is the best present ever, this is the best Christmas ever."
But when he tore open the box containing the US$349 ($509) console, Mr Lundy said there was no PlayStation in it: "There was a wooden block."
The piece of wood was cut to the same measurements as a PS4 console, and was wrapped in packing as an original console would have been. Mr Lundy said the box hadn't been tampered with.
On the box, a rude message from the person who had replaced the console with the wood read: "From c*** and balls with love."
"It was like, you know, kind of laughing in your face," Scott's stepmother Kristin said.
"He's crying and he's upset and he's in the playroom by himself and he just wants to be alone."
She said she was crushed by his sadness.
The family returned the console to Target, where they had bought it. They were given a replacement PS4, a $100 gift card and a game. "They couldn't have been any kinder," Mrs Lundy said.
"They said it happens occasionally and they just go with it, but that was it," Mr Lundy said.
"We were the only ones that actually brought something back with a wooden block."
The family said one of Santa's elves was likely to be the culprit, and they were taking the problem seriously.
"We're all gonna sit down and write a letter to Santa Claus about this naughty elf."
Sony PlayStation consoles are usually made in China or Japan, and this is not the first time an unwanted surprise has been found inside a box.
At Christmas last year, a man from Denver found a bag of rocks inside the PS4 he'd bought for his niece.