Christmas Traditions—Stockings (where they go and what to put in them)

Holiday traditions are as wonderfully diverse as the families who practice them. In conjunction with my new release Bear Creek Christmas, allow me to share some of mine!

##########

Taken from chapter 20 of Bear Creek Christmas

“At length, Knox and Levi got up, turned on all the colored lights, and made a fire in defiance of the still-raging storm. Levi tuned in to some holiday music, and they teamed up to prepare a breakfast featuring banana walnut pancakes. Thus fortified, the giddy lovers returned to the living room to begin their celebration. First, Levi took the filled Christmas stockings from the mantelpiece, handing one to Knox.

“What’s this?”

“Our family has always filled them with candy and small gifts, but you can’t have any until Christmas Day. Next year, you get to decide what goes in them.”

They poured them out on the sofa cushion and began comparing and trading. Knox exchanged some of his licorice for chocolate, while Levi traded a keychain for emoji stickers. The rest went back inside the stockings, which were re-hung on the mantle.”

##########

I came from a large family, and each of us had our own Christmas stocking emblazoned with our name. (There was less pilfering this way if you were dumb enough to leave it laying around!) They got ratty and soiled through the years but no one seemed to care. If I recall correctly, they were store-bought and made of green or red felt. After we all grew up and moved away from home, my mother began creating beautiful hand-quilted stockings for her grandchildren.

While tradition says you’re suppose to hang them on the mantle (providing the North Pole invader easy access), our home didn’t have a fireplace when I was young. This created two very serious questions in my young mind: how did Santa get inside the house without a chimney, and where were we supposed to hang the stockings? My mother told me in all seriousness that Santa simply used the back door to get in, and no, he did not need a key. She also said he knew exactly where to find our stockings—taped to the shelves of a built-in bookcase in the living room where the tree was set up.

We always hung the stockings on the same day we decorated the tree—December 17th, which was my oldest sister’s birthday. There they remained, empty, until late on Christmas eve when mom filled them with candy of all kinds, along with the largest oranges she could find. Evidently, this was one her own traditions, having grown up during the depression when fruit was a little easier to afford than gifts.

Our stockings were the first things we grabbed after being allowed to go downstairs on Christmas morning; mom’s warning not to eat it all ringing in our ears. I don’t recall much in the way of toys or non-edible things—it was all fuel for the coming sugar rush. My favorite was the round balls of chocolate, about the size of marbles and wrapped in bright colored foil. I never did like the traditional hard candies like ribbons, though peppermint candy canes were a welcome treat. We often traded with our siblings, looking for a better deal or just more chocolate.

Your turn to share! Do you hang stockings? Where? If you fill them, what goes inside?