Growing up, my family opened our Christmas gifts to each other on Christmas Eve. Then on Christmas morning "Santa" came and left us toys, and presents, and goodies in our stockings. We did not have a fireplace (okay we did, but it was bricked up and behind my parents bedroom wall) so we left our stockings under the tree in anticipation of treats and amazing things.
My older sister and younger brother's stocking was hand knitted by our mom, and I was always a little bit jealous of them. While tjhey were skinnier than my stocking, they s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d in length and width and as a child I always thought they held many more treats. My stocking, also made by our mom, was appliqued from fabric and did not stretch at all. My parents did not have stockings. I don't remember ever thinking that was strange, but I was aware that it was different from my friends, whose families all had stockings, even the pets!
I have learned over the years, as a sister, a mom, and friend, that there are two types of "stocking people" - those who turn it upside down and pour it all out so to see EVERYTHING at once, and those that pull things out one item at a time and treasure the feeling of excitement and joy over and over again. Both ways have pros and cons, and in my life I have been both a "dumper" and "digger." I now prefer to be a digger.
Our stockings were always filled to overflowing. While the toys, gifts, and small treasures changed from year to year, based on our current wants, needs, and loves, the core of the stockings were always the same. We got an orange or tangerines, a large handful of a variety of un-shelled nuts, chocolate coins, and candy canes. The orange and the nuts were family traditions handed down from my dad's childhood. I also passed those traditions onto my sons, as we always had oranges and nuts in their stockings.
I started to make my twin boys matching cross stitch stockings when they were two, but I bought printed kits and I quickly learned that I really dislike doing printed cross stitch kits. Our babysitter, Robyn, finished them for me. She worked on them each day while the boys took their naps. They are packed up with the boys Christmas decorations, which are still stored in our garage. G is in Uruguay and wants us to hold onto his until he someday moves back to America, and M is in Ohio, looking for a job, and not ready to take possession of "the rest of his belongings" just yet.
My future Mother-In-Law endeared herself to me with a Christmas Stocking during my first visit to her home at Christmas in 1984. Christmas morning we all came down stairs and there was a stocking with a 3x5 card paper clipped to the cuff. The card had my name written on it, and was covering the name of Fred's brother's ex wife. Alice, now my Mother-In-Law, realized as she was preparing the stockings for her large family, that I did not have one. She wanted me to feel welcome and part of the family, so she put together a stocking for me at the last minute. That simple gesture made the fact that I was thousands of miles away from my family and friends a little easier to handle.
Written for the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories for 2010. December 18, 2010