Thursday, November 29, 2012

Tis The Season

I am decorating early this year. I am still keeping things simple, but I am starting to go through the boxes. No one can ever imagine how painful it is to open those boxes and relive happy memories. So many of my Christmas boxes are still untouched as I make new decorations and new memories. And that is becoming ok. Not wonderful, but ok and all right.
I have always loved the tradition of Christmas stockings. And our "Stuffers" have always been a big part of the Christmas season. Our own stockings were skinny red hunting socks that I bought the first year we were married. That year I made all of our decorations and I still have a few of them left. Patchwork fabric pieces were glued to styrofoam balls. (I think mod podge hadn't even been invented yet!). I also made a lot of salt dough ornaments and painted wooden cutouts. I had a handmade birds nest ornament because a bird nest in a tree brings good luck. Every year we added a few ornaments but the tree has always been mostly handmade.  Every year the kids put out their shoes on St Nicholas Day and received a purchased ornament, candy, and chocolate coins. The coins used to be nearly impossible to find. I always spent a lot of time looking for special ornaments.I had several sets of five different pieces. Ornaments with their names engraved. Little statues of children. And, every year, I was more superstitous with these ornaments. They had to be packed separately, and I held my breath until I found each one, and put it safely on the tree. Maybe, somehow, I knew.  Of course, everyone grew up, and took their ornaments with them when they moved. Except for the little people and ones with names, because I didn't want to split them up. With five children, that left a lot of holes on the tree, so we started buying ornaments. Jim loved Christmas. He loved the Hallmark ornaments and things I thought were particularly tacky. If it talked or played music, he wanted it. So the tree was filled up again.
Oh, this was supposed to be about the stockings! My mother made stockings for each of the five and embroidered their names. And every one had their special place on the mantel. Rich's was always in the middle. As we added to the family, I bought hunting socks again. This time, gray with red and green toes. I appliqued Christmas trees and embroidered their names. Each has a funny family history. I meant to make stockings for the grandkids, but they were coming faster than I could finish them, so their presents went into a St Nicholas bag.
Our first Christmas, Jim bought things for my stocking,but he just "didn't get it". Toothpaste does NOT qualify as a stocking stuffer. So I enlisted my younger sisters to buy my stuffers for years. As they grew up, we would get together and exchange stuffers. Now my daughters and I are doing the same. That little party is a high point of the season. The gifts can be funny, or sentimental, or even outrageous. But they are always given with a lot of thought and much love and laughter.
I haven't had the heart for stockings the last two years, but this year I am buying little gifts again. And this year they will all go into this giant stocking that I just finished crocheting. I'll keep it on the door, and maybe a banner or greenery will go on the mantel. It's not wonderful, but it's ok, and our Christmas will be ok too.