Stockings and Cookies

Many years ago, my mother came across a pattern for elegant and

Christmas Heirlooms

artistic Christmas stockings. She had a wonderful idea. She would make a set for herself and my father. Then, when each of her children turned ten, they would get a “grown-up” stocking of their own.

Now that I think of it, those stockings were something of a “coming of age” emblem, marking the transition point between the age when the kid would only care to rip the stocking down for the treasures contained inside and the age when he or she would appreciate that Christmas was about more than loot.

(For those of you who are coming in late, you might enjoy looking at “Coming of Age,” the Wandering for December 8th. Make sure you peek at the thoughtful comments).

Mom also hoped that when the time came, each of her children would make a stocking for his or her spouse.

Her plan almost worked. She’d overlooked the amount of time she’d have for fancy work, what with four kids and a huge house, so she didn’t get my stocking made by the time I was ten. I think I was twelve before I received it. However, it remains the treasured heirloom she envisioned.

When I married the first time, I made a stocking for my first husband. Later, I made one for Roger. We hung it up for the one and only Christmas he and I spent together. Then, when I married Jim, I made him one.

These last three stockings are depicted in the photo as they are displayed in our office: Roger’s on the left, then mine, then Jim’s.

Each stocking is special in that the recipient gets to pick what is depicted at the top. My love for animals was set early on, so mine has a reindeer pulling a sleigh. Roger chose Christmas trees and a bear patterned after the southwestern “fetish bear.” Jim loves trains, so his has a train. He’s a graduate of the University of Michigan, so the train is in Michigan’s blue and maize.

My involvement with these stockings is far from over. My sister, Susan, has three kids and little liking for fussing with sequins and beads. I happily volunteered to do stockings for her kids. Last year, when my nephew, Daniel, was ten, I made his. Daniel shares Jim’s love for trains and wanted a train as well. However, his favorite color is orange, so his train was to be orange.

I didn’t figure this would be a problem, but it turns out that orange sequins are a rare and endangered species unless you’re willing to order them from specialty retailers. I was stubborn. I sent out calls for help. Finally, between a package of mixed sequins my mom found in Virginia and my friends Sue and Hilary Estel looting their craft drawer, we came up with just enough to outline Daniel’s train.

Rebecca is due for her stocking next year. I’m going to insist on no orange!

Making Christmas stockings is not my only holiday tradition. Jim and I decorate our house with cheerful abandon. Not surprisingly, there are a lot of animals in our decorations, including two holiday Breyer horses, numerous cats, and carousel figures. This year’s additions are Christmas guinea pigs, courtesy of the Beanie Baby folks.

I also make Christmas cookies – something my mother and “aunt” Meredith found time to do with us back when I was small. I still make some of the same recipes.

I have an enormous collection of cutters. My friends and family have become accustomed to finding Christmas pick-up trucks, rhinos, and coyotes among the more traditional trees, bells, and stars. Jim handles the decorating. He lets out his inner five year-old and the sprinkles are bright and gaudy. Amid the usual green and red are orange, hot pink, yellow, violet, and blue – in a few cases all on the same cookie!

But our most important holiday tradition has nothing to do with things to make or eat. It has to do with people. We don’t live close to any of our family, so we kicked off the celebrating this past weekend by being enfolded into the Mumma household for a warm and lively party that ended with people from eighty-six to about ten gathered in the living room discussing, of all things, geography!

Whenever possible, we do get together with family, either here or somewhere else.

So in this winter-tide season, Jim and I send our holiday greeting to all of you, no matter what tradition you practice or even if you practice none at all. May our best wishes come to you and yours!

4 Responses to “Stockings and Cookies”

  1. Alan Robson Says:

    I love the idea of your Christmas Stockings. Robin and I don’t really have anything like this to fall back on. But we do have our own Christmas Rituals, so perhaps it amounts to much the same thing.

    We always have a special Christmas breakfast — champagne, smoked salmon and strawberries. The cats too have a special breakfast but generally they refuse to eat it because it isn’t their usual biscuits. So much for special treats. However they often show great interest in our smoked salmon. We guard it carefully.

    Of course, once you’ve had champagne for breakfast, the rest of the day tends to blur. But we usually spend it watching a special DVD that we’ve bought just for the occasion. This year we will be watching “Kingdom”, a drama/comedy series starring Stephen Fry.

    Robin will talk to her mum in Australia. In the past this has been a phone call, but now her mum has Skype so this year they will gossip face to face.

    Whenever people ask what we are doing for Christmas, we explain that we will be alone; just us and the cats and our Christmas Ritual. Invariably the response is, “Oh, that sounds lovely! I’m so jealous.” and then they go off and spend Christmas at huge family gatherings where they cook and wash up and argue and generally have a horrible time. I’ve heard so many moans and complaints about “family duties” over the last couple of weeks…

    If they dislike it so much, why do they do it?

    Meanwhile, Robin and I will have a blissful Christmas, as we do every year.

    Since we are the very first people in the world to get Christmas, we will raise a glass of champagne to all of you on our Christmas morning. However you choose to celebrate it, may you all have fun doing it.

    Merry Christmas from the bottom of the world.


  2. Nicholas Wells Says:

    Mt Christmas season is in many ways quieter than most. The family, largely my brothers, parents, and aunt, gather for dinner and gifts, not always in that order. Since they started doing it recently, we watch whatever football game is on if they have one. It’s strange, but football is the one thing brings the six of us together more than anything else. And I do mean anything. Sometimes because of work we have to celebrate Christmas a couple of days early or later, but just the gathering is what we’re really after.

    I wish I had a heartwarming tradition to share like yours, but our only one hasn’t been done in years for many reasons (too many to explain here). We used to gather friends and family, and use our Christmas tree (plus a little more) as fire wood for a camp fire. I know some may find that appalling, but for us it was another way to have some together time. We even use to cook hobbo-packs (did I spell that right) on the coals for dinner. We may restart that this year not that a lot has changed, but it’s too soon to tell.

    The one thing that has remained is the “daddy gift”. Every year my father gives us an individual gift, and it always has some kind of special meaning. It can be as simple as a pocket knife, or in my case when I was little, a snow globe for my collection. It’s carefully chosen from his heart, which for him, is something we don’t see much of. Even now, with the oldest son at 31, we still look forward to our “daddy gift”. I only hope if I ever have kids, I can continue to give the same to them.

    That’s all I got for now. Until next time, merry Christmas everyone.

  3. Frank Landis Says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy holidays

    I just visited some vernal pools overflowing with water, and there are already frog eggs in them. Not bad for a putative drought year. The cookies are baked, the gifts are wrapped, and I’ve got a few hours to write. Life is good. Hope everyone else is warm, dry, and happy.

  4. janelindskold Says:

    Frogs eggs already? Wow.

    Jim and I just got home from Texas, where we spent the holiday with his parents and also visited his sister and her family.

    We had a good time, but now Jim and I are going to have our version of Alan and Robin’s Christmas — be quietly together, open our gifts to each other, and let the cats chase wrapping paper.

    Hope life is good for all of you — where around the frog pond or the flaming Christmas tree!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: