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Christmas Traditions: Stockings Stuffed With Joy

stockingsWe open our gifts on Christmas Eve. My brothers and I are in our 20s now; there’s no need to set out cookies and milk for Santa, nor waking up at the crack of dawn to see what was left under the tree. Instead, we mosey in the living room, one at a time, passing the lonely Christmas tree on Christmas morning for a cup of coffee.

But one thing will always remain. Below the mantle hang three stockings filled to the brim… and then some. These are the gifts that, no matter how old, we never know what will be inside that stocking come Christmas morning. We picked out every present from the day before… may have even bought the gifts ourselves and let our parents pay us back, but we don’t talk about what might be in our stockings. It’s not up for discussion.

However, there’re the things that hardly change. For example, there will be some type of fruit at the bottom so that the toe of the stocking is perfectly round. There’s more candy than one could ever imagine fitting inside a stocking. I still have candy from Christmas 2014. The rim of the stocking will be covered in candy canes. There will probably be a few pair of socks buried in the midst of all the candy. But, there are always surprises. I may be jealous of what’s in my brothers’ stockings, and they may be jealous of what’s in mine, and we trade some things, especially candies. But there is always something we never expected that brings the biggest smile, no matter the cost. It could have cost a nickel and it could have cost 50 dollars. According to my mother, the cost doesn’t matter if it’s the perfect size for a stocking.

stockingsDaddy said there have been several Christmases that the stockings held more worth than the presents and presents and presents under the tree. There have even been Christmases where Mama bought too much to stuff in a stocking and had to save what was left for the following year. But Mama’s love for stuffed stockings was a tradition that began long before she had children.

Grandmama Jonnie, Mama’s grandmother, sewed a stocking for each of her children, grandchildren and, then, great grandchildren. Each one was red with a white rim bearing a name sewed in the prettiest fashion. However, none looked the same. Mine was decked with a rocking horse, a Santa and a Christmas Tree on one side and the other side was filled with “girly” appliques. Each stocking had a Holly leaf somewhere on it, sometimes two.

In 2005, my dear Grandmama Jonnie passed away. 2004 was the last year we used her stockings. They were to be cherished, not to be broken by “overstuffing.” Now, they stay packed up together in a box. They come down from the attic each year with the rest of the Christmas decorations, but they are too valuable to be set out.

God willing, I’ll be well in my 50s, maybe even 60s, before my mother stops filling a stocking for me. Those stockings stuffed with joy are the highlight of my Christmas. I imagine some tears will be shed the first Christmas morning I spend without a stocking from Mama.

Randall Haley is the managing editor of HottyToddy.com. She can be reached at randall.haley@hottytoddy.com.

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