Christmas Writing Challenge #10: The Background of Photos
What I Learned from Mary

Christmas Writing Challenge #11: The Stockings

Write about your stockings. What did they look like? What did they feel like? Where did you hang them, what did you find inside them?

Yesterday, I wrote about how I wish I had a photograph of our Christmas stockings. Unless some previously-undiscovered package of pictures is found, I believe I'll have to live my life without one. Words will have to do.

Unsurprisingly, our stockings were made by my mom. They were made of red velvet—a thick, luxurious velvet—with lace and ribbons sewn onto five of the six. The sixth one was just plain, not because it was my dad's and thus more masculine, but because mom ran out of ribbon and lace, or maybe time. Then she just didn't ever get around to doing it the next year. (As I have several partly-finished Christmas quilts that each year I am finally going to finish—but never do—I have only empathy for her.) Each of the beribboned stockings was different, and we didn't have the same one each year—it was totally random who got which one.

Oddly enough, I don't remember anything about what was in the stockings. At least, nothing specific. Candy, oranges, jewelry, makeup when we got older. A year with peanuts and peppermint candy, an odd flavor combination that nevertheless evokes Christmas in my heart. What I remember most fondly is hanging up the stockings. We had a fireplace in our basement, with six nails in the stone mantle where we hung the stockings. I loved the fireplace; I loved having a fire, especially at Christmas. And hanging the stockings on the mantel over the fireplace: somehow it made me feel like we were a family. I mean: of course, we were a family. But the stockings over the fire sparked my affection. It made me love everyone.

That I don't remember what was in the stockings tells me something about memory. I think that I remember best what had an emotional impact upon me. Opening the stockings wasn't as big of a deal as it is in my house (it is my kids' favorite part), so what was inside has been lost. But that feeling—the red stockings, with their ribbon and lace and the very faint reflection of light on the velvet—all six of them across the mantel? It's sort of a visual synecdoche. The stockings = my family, with all our quirkiness, our failures but also our successes, our flair for the girly side. Our togetherness: that's what struck my heart, and that is what stays with me.

Photo challenge: Snap some pics of your empty stockings where they hang waiting to be filled.



Love this series. Especially that you talk about your memories as a child. So much of what we do is about our kids and today, which is all good, but I think it is important to remember our past, as well. Thanks for the prompts and thanks for sharing your own memories--they actually brought back some of my own. Have a wonderful Christmas!

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