Stocking the Stocking
My favorite part of the gift opening tradition on Christmas morning has always been the stockings. As a kid, years ago, Christmas gifts were far different than today. At the beginning of the school year my Mum bought us new clothes, a pair of sneakers and a couple pairs of shoes. That got you through until Christmas when you received sweaters, warm socks, day-of-the-week underwear (minus Sunday) and our tradition, a Lanz of Salzburg nightgown. Depending on your age, you received a few toys and one "big present"....a bike, Sony Walkman and one year, my sister and I both received a bunny, which turned into lots of bunnies, but that's another story.
The adult's gifts were different as well. My parents saved up for months and bought gifts for the home, saying they were for each other. Gifts included; the first VHS player (they chose VHS over a Betamax after long debating which was better, good decision in retrospect) a new sofa, mattress, exciting stuff. Today people generally don't wait to make such purchases. You need a mattress, you buy one from the comfort of your old crappy mattress you are replacing on your phone. My daughter currently has more shoes in her closet than I had all of my school years combined (in part due to being the daughter of a former fashion stylist). One thing that hasn't changed for me, the Christmas stocking It is filled to this day with the basics, toothpaste, razors and the net bag filled with golden chocolate coins.
Once we had kids, my husband Andrew and I decided to forgo gifts for one another and just do stockings, over-the-top stockings with its' contents spilling onto the hearth. We have our own stocking traditions now, going on twenty-something years, which I love and look forward to. The toe always holds an orange surrounded by mini Reese's Peanut Butter cups and Hershey's kisses. Toothpaste, deodorant and in my case, three different lip balms are always a given, as are alcohol nips which are included more for their cute bottles than contents as they never seem to be consumed. Gift certificates for mani-pedis, the Farmer's Almanac and scratch off tickets are must haves. Andrew collects cufflinks, so I search all summer for the perfect pair to tuck deep inside. He restocks my favorite cosmetics, finds the last kitchen tool I don't already own and I roll a copy of his favorite magazine for which I have renewed the subscription.
As the kids have grown into teenagers their stocking are stuffed with more things similar to ours, minus the nips, but still including the oranges and candy. Thatcher's stocking inevitability has something "narwhal" related as it is his favorite animal. Ellie's always includes a favorite cosmetic item and something emblazoned with the Red Sox logo. Each stocking is filled with equal portions of tradition and surprises specific to the recipient, a combination which is the definition of the perfect gift. So much thought goes into our Christmas stockings, it is a reminder that it really is the little things that mean the most.
Here's hoping that you too find joy in the little things this season and enjoy the simplest of traditions.