Sunday, December 25, 2005

The Stockings of Christmas Past

The Christmas season is upon us again. Where did the year go? I remember when I was a kid, I didn’t think Christmas would ever arrive. Now, it seems like I just took the tree and decorations down and it is time to put them up again. My goal this holiday season will be the same as it has been the past few years, trying to keep things as un-commercialized as possible. I am trying to keep gift giving simple—something homemade and gift cards. Gift cards have revolutionized the way people think of Christmas shopping. What is more perfect than a gift card from your favorite store or restaurant?

Although I sometimes get a hollow feeling whenever I give the girls money or gift cards for birthdays or Christmas, I know deep down that they are a perfect gift because they can get exactly what they want. With my increased use of gift cards, I have eased my guilt of not shopping by including these cards with something I have made with my hands, like candy, party mix, knitted scarves or shawls.
Christmas stockings are another way to use creativity with gift giving. When I was a child, our Christmas stockings always contained nuts, an assortment of fruit and a candy cane. I am amazed at the fond memories I have of digging into my stocking on Christmas morning and pulling out an apple, banana or orange, and then reaching even further into the stocking and hauling out the walnuts one by one. Even as I grew into a teenager, I looked forward to reaching into my stocking on Christmas morning.

I have continued the tradition of Christmas stockings with my own kids, but the booty in their stocking is more likely to be a CD, DVD, or the ever popular gift card. I always enjoyed finding just the perfect gift to place in the stockings; and I would normally wrap these small gifts to prolong the enjoyment. For sentimental reasons, I usually have to add walnuts and a piece of fruit, along with Christmas candy.

Although our Christmas stockings have changed over the years, everyone in my family has his or her own stocking holder. My stocking holder is a racoon, because I like to collect racoon Christmas ornaments. I bought this stocking holder the Christmas of 1979, the year of my first marriage. When Amber was born, she got a cat holder, mainly because it looked like a cat we owned in 1982. Two years later, Marie got her stocking holder and it is a rocking horse that has “Baby’s 1st Christmas 1984”. Keith and I were dating in 1986, so he added his elf stocking holder to the collection of ours on display. When Christine was born in 1992, we chose a Santa mouse; the last stocking holder we have added to our family. Even though we always have a special Christmas stocking for Amber and Marie’s boyfriends, we are holding off on additional holders until we have official members of the family. Of course, I am looking forward to adding stocking holders for each of my grandkids, in the future.

My Mom still has the Christmas stockings that Brent, Amy and I had as a child. They always hang on the brick hearth, along with additions for Amber, Marie, Ashley, Christine and Ethan. During the Christmas season of 2004, Mom made each of us a new Christmas stocking. Amy had seen a picture of stockings made from an old quilt and she convinced Mom to make them. Amy had an old quilt and she drew the pattern and helped Mom cut out the pattern pieces. Mom worked hard for several weeks to make sure all of us had stockings. She presented us with these stockings on Christmas Eve and this was the best gift I could have received. I loved the way the stockings looked and I was thrilled because it was something my Mom had made for us. Last year I used these stockings instead of our usual ones. This year I am trying to figure out some unique way of displaying them.

I am sure most of you have some type of tradition involving Christmas stockings. Maybe you are traditionalist and use real stockings instead of the famous red and white flannel ones. Maybe you don’t hang your stockings until Christmas Eve, or maybe you hang them all season. Whatever your traditions include, it is fun to add something new to your holiday rituals. The ideas are endless, like the stockings my Mom made, or an idea from Martha Stewart, or just a wonderful display in a department store. Traditions begin one at a time, so why not make stockings your theme for the year and add something new to your Christmas holiday season. Twenty years from now your family will be saying, “Remember when…”

© Bobbi Rightmyer, December 2005