“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

What to put in those Christmas stockings
Wednesday, December 17, 2008

I've learned over the years that the contents of Christmas stockings varies from family to family. When I was kid, my brother and I had big, felt handmade stockings with our names on them. In fact, my Mom really did Christmas in a big way, with handmade decorations everywhere. We also had a tree every year that towered at nearly 15 feet tall and required three men for the erection. (Whoops. Maybe I should rewrite that! You sometimes form the oddest sentences while fast-blogging.) On the front port was a lifesize Santa and Mrs. Clause, sitting on the swing. They were made from scraps of paper and cloth, sculpted over large antique milk cans. Absolute works of art, these decorations. My mother was a master decorator and artist, just like the mom-character, Geena, in my novel "All This Belongs to Me."

Needless to say, when it came time to fill those stockings on Christmas Eve, Mom just didn't have much time or energy left, so she filled them with a pattern of this: apple, orange, lots of peanuts, then a $5 bill. Then another apple, another orange, lots of peanuts, and another fiver or ten. Then, another apple, another orange, lots of peanuts ... you get the picture. These big stockings must have weighed at least ten pounds when she was finished with them.

When I grew up and started my own family, my wife and I decided that stockings would be the most important, most anticipated part of Christmas Day. To do this, we acquire things for them all year long. On vacations, we sneak away and buy mementos. We might put in some homemade "I-Owe-You" coupons for tasks or favors to be done around the house ... or a really nice pair of slippers or a piece of jewelry or CD or small book of some kind. Every person contributes to everyone's stocking, and they only buy things they know that person will really cherish.

I wrote about this on facebook, and a reader from Louisville, Kentucky offered her own amusing experience with combining a new marriage's Christmas-stocking traditions. I quote her directly:

"...Chad and I come from totally opposite stocking-stuffer traditions. In my family, the stocking were stuffed with completely useless but fun stuff - toys, candy, etc. In his, it was all totally useful stuff: toothbrush, travel-size toiletries, etc. Our first Christmas together was interesting; we each dumped out our stockings and were like, "What is THIS???"


Blogger geeky Heather said...

I shared your Kentucky reader's experience on my first Christmas with my husband, with a slightly different bent. My family (ha! I mean, my mom) always filled stockings with a hundred little things; some useful, some frivolous. My husband's, however, filled theirs with about five or six fun things. When I opened mine, I was thinking, "This is IT??" and he was thinking, "What is all this crap?" We've averaged over the years. =) We did, however, agree that stocking gifts should be individually wrapped!

December 17, 2008 at 4:01 PM  
Blogger Brittanie said...

My mother does a mixture of stuff. Hairthings, chapstick, gum, some candy. :)

December 17, 2008 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Ad Hudler said...

Heather: I like that idea about wrapping things. We don't have to wrap fruit, though, do we?

Brittanie: Sounds like your mom does a good job. Keep her!

December 17, 2008 at 9:56 PM  
Blogger Kathy Grey said...

It is the only thing from my childhood that resembled the Waltons. Probably because my parents were depression-era kids, and so what we got were figs, dates, ribbon and spiced candies, the requisite orange and golden apple, a pear or perhaps a tangerine and some nuts.

It reminds me of "The Homecoming," the precurser to "The Waltons," in the scene where John-Boy has somehow scored an orange for his mom (the pilot had Patricia O'Neill as Olivia) for Christmas in W. Virginia. He wrapped it in paper and stored it in the cellar to keep it more fresh. It was given, and received, as a surprise to cherish.

I appreciate simple, meaningful things, and I look fondly back at our old Christmas stockings. (At the time, I have to admit, I thought it was a big yawn. Little ingrate...)

December 18, 2008 at 8:38 AM  
Blogger Kathy Grey said...

Oops, that was Patricia Neill. Or Neil. No O'.

December 18, 2008 at 8:47 AM  

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