A Christmas Carol: Christmas stockings

It’s almost Christmas Eve as I write today’s post.¬†Almost.

Almost is close enough to be able to talk about Christmas stockings, isn’t it?

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Christmas Past

I think the very early days of Christmas stockings were proper long socks. There is a pair of good stout navy socks that my dad had when he was in the Merchant Navy (I think) – I think this is where my Christmas stocking experience began.

Some time in the dim and distant, my granny F (I think) arranged Christmas stockings for me and for my brother. I think my parents have them now.

They are red and white striped (and maybe green too?). They are a bit Dr Seuss, or candy cane, in appearance. And on the cuff, at the top, is embroidered the appropriate name.

I think these come from the era when we were living in Peebles, reasonably close to my grandparents when they were in Edinburgh. So maybe the stockings came out at a
get-together during that time.

In those days, we lived in a first floor flat – a big house, converted into flats with impossibly high ceilings. And there was a fireplace too – perfect place to hang the stockings.

I suspect Dad hammered in nails – one each side of the fireplace – and a stocking went on each side. And as far as I know, that pattern was repeated.

In the house where we lived for all of my secondary school years, you could see the nail holes beside the fireplace there. It was simply a case of pushing a nail back in, hanging up the stocking.

Well on into our teens, even if our Father Christmas perspectives had shifted somewhat – we still wanted a Christmas stocking. And Mum and Dad still brought out the stockings to hang up each year.

Always, but always: a shiny coin. A satsuma. (I think my parents had had this pattern for their own childhood stockings.)

Likely bet: Terry’s Chocolate Orange. Possibly even a dark chocolate one, in later years.
Or Neapolitans, perhaps (which I now discover are no longer produced. I suspect public disgruntlement about The Coffee Flavoured Ones.)

Christmas stockings work well with things that are small, or long. So they’re fine to add the odd bottle of something for the bath. Something like this, for example.

Most memorable item in a Christmas stocking: a folding music stand. Indeed just what I needed, in those ‘cello playing days.

The day began with stockings: but of course! (But after 7 am, please.) I’m sure mine was initially unpacked on my own bed, delighted over, repacked again and carried through to my parents’ room.

And when we had opened our stockings on our parents’ bed, it would seem unfair that we had something and they did not.

So I would head down to find presents for them, from me and from my brother. And so the rest of the giving and receiving would unfold.

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Christmas Present

I would love to tell you that Junior Reader has an heirloom-type stocking that can be treasured for many a year.

But this would not be fair to say, as it was purchased in a bargain store. (Christmas traditions can still be borne out of limits on maternal time, patience and cash.)

No matter. It looks like Father Christmas, and it is jolly in red and white felt. The hook may not be the strongest, and has seen some repair, but the stocking is doing fine.

There is a space for a photo (should the visiting Father Christmas forget the child he is visiting) and Junior Reader is usually happy to spend some time on Christmas Eve hunting around for a reasonably recent photo.

Stockings are about appropriate levels of novelty – and astonishing levels of insight on the part of Father Christmas.

So I can reveal that not only has he brought Junior Reader a CD or two over the years, in the Christmas stocking, at times he has also kindly put the CD onto the family iPod so that it can quickly be listened to in any environment!

Father Christmas also seems to have a bit of a thing about glow sticks. This being at a dark time of the year, we see his point.

Lacking a chimney, or a suitable bed end for a stocking to hang on, we improvise with the stocking hanging on the outside-facing handle of Junior Reader’s door. Father Christmas has coped admirably with this over the years.

Given the obviously as-yet unknown stocking contents prospect of 2013, we can only speculate about what it will be like this year.

But we are reasonably sure that Father Christmas has enjoyed putting together his purchases.

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