My favorite Christmas tradition has always been the stockings-hung on the wall or the mantle or a chair or wherever. It didn't matter where they were they just had to be there. I remember as a little girl, waking up on Christmas morning with my sisters, hoping Santa had come. We'd run to get mom and dad up and drag them to the living room to look under the tree. The gifts would be spotted, shouts of joy would ring out, and then my mom would take the stockings down and insist we look in them first. I'm sure, now, that was her way of calming down our excitement and giving my dad a chance to wake up before we started attacking the gifts.
Without fail each of those stockings would have an apple, an orange, some walnuts, and a few chocolate candies (and one year, there was even a quarter in the toe!) On the coffee table would be a nutcracker bowl and a candy dish-full of the the nuts and candies that didn't fit in the stockings. We were so excited! Nowadays I can't even imagine a child getting excited over fruits and nuts, but it was a rare treat for us.
I certainly carried that tradition with me to my own household. The best part of my Christmas shopping was looking for the little treasures to tuck in the stockings. And on Christmas morning, I loved having that cup of coffee and getting my eyes open while the stockings were investigated. DH would claim his favorite chair and ask where the camera was-which always sent me scrambling for a hairbrush and a bathrobe!
And even though my "kids" are full grown adults and starting families of their own, none of their Christmas gifts get opened until the stockings have been thoroughly inventoried and oohed over. But I see changes on the horizon. New "kids" are being added to the mix, stockings have wandered off to other homes, Christmas morning isn't always in the morning....
Since some of the stockings had to be replaced this year, I made it a mission to look at them in every store we Christmas shopped in. I think I tested poor DH's patience to the limit on the search for the perfect stocking! You gotta love a guy who will go through every store's decoration aisle. But everywhere we looked was a disappointment. I just couldn't find any that seemed just right.
Right now I'm just so thankful that we all will be together this year. Between the military kid, the in-law families, and all the work schedules I realize this won't always be the case. So, I'm learning to be flexible. And this year instead of stockings, we are filling Christmas "mittens."