Keeping the Holidays Simple: The Joy of Christmas Stockings

A Christmas without stockings would be the worst Christmas ever.

It would be sadder even than Scrooge’s Christmas future without Tiny Tim.

Luckily, I don’t have to face that tragedy, because my sisters and I keep the Christmas stocking tradition alive.

three christmas stockings
Three Simple Christmas Stockings by Liz Aragon //CC BY-NC-SA 3.0

An abundance of treasure in a sweat sock

Mom kept it simple. She understood that it didn’t matter so much what the stockings contained. It was more about the fun of discovery as we drew out each item.

Nothing about the stockings was extravagant, because we lived on a tight budget. In fact, when we were very young Mom didn’t even bother with store-bought stockings. Instead, she simply used Daddy’s white sweat socks.

On Christmas morning, after we had opened our other gifts, we dove into the stockings.

We never up-ended them and dumped out the contents. That would be cheating. We pulled out the gifts one at a time, pacing ourselves, none of us wanting to finish first.

There were foil-wrapped chocolates, candy canes, yoyos and little puzzles, nuts in the shell, and at the very bottom an orange, which filled out the toe of the stocking.

Child's yoyo
Child’s yoyo by Panda Free Clipart

While we were engrossed in playing with toys and sneaking chocolates, Mom made breakfast.

Indulging in simple luxuries

Today my sisters and I delight in surprising each other and Mom with goodies we aren’t likely to buy for ourselves:

  • Shortbread made with real butter.
  • Chocolate truffles.
  • Warm, fuzzy socks.

We also aim to make each other laugh. We seek out silly ornaments for the tree, refrigerator magnets with sarcastic slogans (Anne Taintor is a favorite), and gag gifts like those candy containers that dispense chocolate reindeer poop. (Yes, it’s disgusting — that’s the point!)

Recapturing childish glee

The greatest thing about Christmas stockings is that they allow my sisters and I to be kids again. To play, to tease, to eat too much candy, and to laugh until, red-faced and breathless, we collapse in a merry heap on the floor. Even in those years when we can’t celebrate together, we’re connected by this tradition.

I don’t remember a specific gift from my childhood, but I do remember the stockings.
Stuffed with everyday treasures, they were the best part of Christmas morning.
They still are today.

Candy Cane by Tanemori via Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.1 jp

What about you? What holiday traditions from your childhood do you still enjoy?

P.S. Don’t tell my sisters, but this year they can expect to see this in their stockings!

Troll doll
Toll Doll by Cheryl via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Who are you grateful for?

One of the ways I’ve found to live a healthier, more mindful life is to reflect on what I’m grateful for. As I mentioned in an earlier post, keeping a gratitude journal helps me focus on the people and things I am lucky to have in my life.

Today I’m thankful for the ways my sisters help and support me. I can always count on them, whenever I’m teetering on the edge of hopelessness, to reel me back in. I wrote about them yesterday in my gratitude journal.

My gratitude journal entry about my sisters
My gratitude journal entry about my sisters

No matter what I do, my sisters still love me. And it hasn’t always been easy. Growing up I was the bossy older sister. (Actually, sometimes I still am!) But somehow they’ve gotten past all my obnoxious behavior and now they’re my own personal cheering squad. And I’m theirs.

For some reason I can no longer recall, we used to call each other “piggy,” which wasn’t an insult but rather a term of endearment. And we spoke our own piggy dialect (not pig Latin), which involved bizarre accents and inside jokes. Sometimes we still call each other piggy.

three cartoon pigs
The Piggy Sisters

My sisters live thousands of miles away, but we’ve managed to stay close in the ways that matter. It didn’t happen automatically, of course. We had to work at it. We had to stay in touch. We had to talk openly and honestly.

And we had to appreciate each other.

30 words. That’s all I wrote in my journal. It’s amazing how powerful the simple act of writing something down is. I can’t wait to call my sisters this weekend.

Who are you grateful for?

When was the last time you told them?