Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Few of My Favorite Things, Part Two: Christmas Stockings

“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there,” the classic poem says.

The house in which I grew up had no chimney. Maybe that’s why my family did not do Christmas stockings.

There is no sadness implied in that observation. We had plenty of Christmas without stockings.

Stockings were a part of the tradition of my step-mother’s family. So, when my father married Imogene, a stocking with my father’s name on it and one with my name on it went up next to those of Imogene, her children Danny and Kathy, and her mother Mrs. Ross. When Debra and I got married, she got a stocking, too. It was a very nice tradition so we adopted it in our household.

Our family has been blessed to live in houses with fireplaces and mantles. So, whether we have been in Louisville, in Adel, in Nashville, or in Augusta, we have hung the stockings on the mantle. Well, that’s where the ones that belong to the human beings in the family are. The stockings of Fritz (the big dog), Otis (the cat), and Jack (the little dog) are tacked to the door beside the fireplace. I’m frankly surprised that no one has thought to put one up for Jimmy Stewart (Joshua’s chinchilla) or Corky (Sara’s beta fish). They probably will after they read this.

Each human member of the family puts at least one thing in everybody’s stocking. Naturally, Debra is the one that really fills the stockings that belong to the children and to me. I put a lot of stuff in hers.

We open them on Christmas Eve. Our Christmas Eve has the structure of a high church worship service. First, we attend the Christmas Eve worship service. Second, we come home and eat a supper of submarine sandwiches. Third, we open our stockings. Fourth, we watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Fifth, we go to bed to await Santa Claus.

It’s a fun night.

There is another stocking in our house the origin of which I wish I could remember. Among all of our Christmas tree ornaments is a small, simple, green stocking. The hanger is attached to it via a small safety pin. I have had that little stocking for as long as I can remember; it goes back to my childhood. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who gave it to me. But, it’s a connection with my childhood. When we decorate the tree, my family always makes sure that I am the one to hang it on the tree.

It’s too small to hold a gift. But it, like most good things, is a gift in and of itself.

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