Saturday, December 1, 2012

The First Christmas Stocking

My Sister
My Sister & Me
    When I was five, my sister was twenty, she worked in a bank and had a steady boyfriend.  I was the object of attention, the baby, but also a bit of a pain. I adored my sister and followed her every-where, constantly begged her to play with me or read me stories. On my fifth Christmas, I was allowed to open one present early and to my delight, inside was a beautiful red felt stocking with my name across the top. Little did we all know then what a wonderful Christmas tradition that one stocking would generate.

Original Christmas Stocking
The First Stocking
My Daughters Stocking
    In those days, there was very little extra money to buy frivolous things and a Christmas stocking was certainly frivolous. My ingenious mother and sister came up with a plan.  My sister drew out the pattern and the decorations from a picture she saw in a magazine.  My mother went to rummage sales and brought scraps of felt, (often old hats) and pieces of material with sequins or beads on them. Together they assembled the necessary materials and my sister made me a beautiful Christmas stocking. It was the prettiest thing I had ever seen and I spent a lot of time just looking at it. To my surprise on Christmas morning, I found an apple and an orange in the toe, along with several pieces of chocolate and some nuts.
   Later, my sister married her boyfriend and they started a family of their own. She made a Christmas stocking for each of her children, her older sister's children and her husband's brother’s children as well. When I married she continued the tradition and made stockings for my children. Of course, when her grandchildren were born, each received the precious gift of a special handmade stocking. 
   Over the years the stockings changed a little. Craft stores started to carry an abundance of sequins, beads, decorations, and every color of felt imaginable. The designs became more elaborate, but the basic concept stayed the same. There was always a train across the toe and a name across the top. There was always a Christmas tree and a jack-in-the-box in the middle. A few other embellishments, a kite, a drum, an angel, and a teddy bear were used to add individuality. Each stocking remained unique and yet there was always a continuity of design.

My Sister And All The  Stockings That Showed Up In 1987

Last Stocking Made
By 1987, my sister had made many stockings, but she did not have one of her own. That year, my daughter and I decided to surprise her with her own Christmas stocking. The photo above was taken that Christmas, everyone who attended, brought their stocking. These are just a few of all that she made. I have often reflected on that special gift my sister and mother gave me all those years ago. They are no longer with us but their creative spirit and ingenuity lives on in this Christmas tradition. I now have five grandchildren and I have made a stocking for each of them. At Christmas Santa fills their stockings with an apple, an orange, a chocolate Santa and a few small toys. I only hope this tradition will continue for future generations.        
Our Family Mantle This Year

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