Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Stocking Traditions

Every family has it's own Christmas traditions. Some of them are quite common and others sometimes surprise me.

I was reading an In R Dream  blog post about Christmas stockings and started to comment on what I had just read.  The comment was getting long, so I decided to make it into a new blog post of my own.  

The blogger mentioned wrapping a stocking. I had never heard of wrapped stockings before. That would just slow poor Santa down on his trip around the world. Kids already wonder how he can get to every house all in one night. I assume that the only reason the stockings mentioned might have been wrapped was because they were for the other adults, and the givers didn't want the surprise to be spoiled before Christmas morning.

We don't give stockings to people over 16 at our house, but while there was a younger child in the house, the older one got what amounted to stocking stuff wrapped up in a box, just to make the gift giving equal.   Hmmm..... maybe we did wrap stockings after all, just without the actual stocking. 

I never thought of it before, but my grandmother always sent us a box full of strange things among the other presents too.  Opening those boxes got everyone's attention because we never knew what to expect.  There would be strange colourful socks, stuffed in a glass with some hotel logo on it, a bar of soap, and other things we figured she got out of her own cupboards.....generally useful things that didn't go together.  It never occurred to me that perhaps she was wrapping stocking stuff too, and just including socks that were too small to stuff.

While stockings are traditionally hung by the chimney with care, or placed under the tree, I was amused while reading the blog mentioned above, to find that others sometimes find their stockings in their rooms or by their bedroom door. I thought I dreamt  that up on my own as a kid. My brother and I used to sneak downstairs to get our stockings, sometimes as early as 4am. Our stockings were wisely stuffed with comic books and tangerines, as well as other little toys to keep us busy and hopefully quiet for a while. The excitement of two little kids pretty well does away with any ideas of parents getting much more sleep though.  I know we would eventually drag our stockings into our parents room, climb up onto their bed and excitedly show them what we got.  

One year, when I was probably about 11,  I suggested that my folks just put the stockings by our doorways so we wouldn't have to go downstairs. They shhhhed me, as my brother was 4 years younger and they didn't want me to spoil the magic of Santa for him. Actually, it was at that moment that I realized that I had just given up that belief myself. It was quite startling really. 

I'm thankful that my own kids tended to sleep until we woke them up on Christmas morning. I don't know how they managed to do that though, as I, even as an adult, had a hard time getting a good sleep on Christmas Eve because of all the excitement.

While there are no longer any filled stockings to be found at our house on Christmas morning, we still have gifts under a now artificial tree, and the same Christmas meal we've always had for the 37 years since I took over from my Mom. I have dared to change something now and then, always to be met with a protest. Traditions are traditions, you see, and not to be messed with. 

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and would love to hear about anything your family does that you may think is a little different.  Perhaps it's not.


  1. We, too, had stockings stuffed with comics and tangerines and small quiet toys because my brother and I would get up around 4am and sneak downstairs for ours ... and no, not hung by the chimney, rather laid out on the dining room table.

    However, our one family tradition forever (while we still had family enough to have dinners), was the "grab-bag". Like your grandmother, we would scour our homes for odds and ends; all year, finding small inexpensive items - some bought specifically for someone else - others not; keeping all these small items until Christmas dinner. They would all go into a bag ... hence "grab-bag". After dinner, the bag would be passed around from guest to guest and each would reach in blindly - NO feeling around!! l and pull out an item, which would be examined and exclaimed over by all. By the time the bag was empty, each of us would have a pile of a dozen or more items in front of us. Then began the big trade ... "I'll give you 2 "woodles" if you give me your "hephengle". This would take almost as much time as the grab-bag itself.

    It was a lovely tradition, now lost as death has taken the elderly and the rest of us make our own small lives and real Christmas dinner is no more.

    Sad, but the memories are still there and wonderful.

    1. I love that idea. Perhaps we can incorporate it into our family gatherings in coming years. I'm not clear on if the hostess put everything in the bag and stayed out of the game, or if each person put something in there. If the later were the case, and there was no feeling around, how often did someone manage to pull out their own surprise gift?