23 December 2011

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

It started with three stockings. One for my mother, one for my father, one for me. Mine was white, with an angel in a blue dress. Yellow yarn hair, a gold halo, stars at her feet, organdy wings. My mother’s was white too, an assortment of pastel ornaments appliqued on. My father’s was red; his was the Christmas tree, complete with tiny real glass ornaments, the size of a marble. She’d made them all, my mother did. Crafted of love and felt, they had stars and paillettes sewn on with tiny glass beads at the center, bits of lace and ribbon, an occasional jingle bell.

When my brother was born, she made him a stocking: red felt with a snowman. The snowman was gently padded underneath, and he wore a miniature hand knit blue and white Yale scarf. My sister completed the family, and her stocking was green with a red dressed Santa, fat belly encircled by a tiny vinyl belt.

For years, those five stockings were the ones carefully hung from the mantel each year. One year, I made a tiny inept stocking for a cat, blanket stitched ‘round the perimeter; when my parents divorced, the Christmas tree stocking was put away, not to be spoken of.

Gradually, more stockings were added to the mix – one for my husband, that I made, patchworked from old silk ties. My mother made stockings for my sister’s husband, her two older children, my daughter, my brother’s husband WIFE. We ran out of cup hooks on the mantel and started doubling up. My mother made a stocking for my sister’s youngest child – but didn't realize it was backwards, its toe pointing southwest, until she brought it down to the dining room where it hung in merry opposition to each and every other stocking. A couple of store bought stockings could be rotated in for house guests, like David, our brother from another planet, who came for Christmas Eve one year, and left two days later (and came back every year thereafter).

There were rules about the stockings: nothing was to be put into them until Christmas morning, nothing too heavy, contents were to be gently dumped onto the table and stockings returned immediately to their cuphooks, there must be no handling of the felt with sticky fingers. But, you see, they were worthy of rules, needing of protection. They're art, you see, art shot through with love and magic.

After we’d moved into our house, with our very own mantel, we had stand-in stockings – attractive enough Hable stockings I’d bought on sale – because the “real” stockings still resided at my mother’s house. It was only this year that I brought home the angel, and the ties, and the stars, and hung them with care on our very own cup hooks.



Now, our house is really a home.

19 comments:

Pinky said...

Have I met your brother's husband?

Pinky said...

I say that while sitting here weeping with both laughter and wistfulness.

RuthWells said...

They are beautiful, and I know exactly what you mean.

Elissa said...

We the x-mas neighbor gang always greatly admired the stockings. Our 60's five & ten store-bought red ones with a white flaking Santa and our names magic markered across the top, just didn't compare.

I do think your mom would find the brother's husband to be very funny - can picture her retelling the story with great laughter!

susan said...

They are beautiful, just beautiful.

I still have my childhood stocking--a storebought one that has my name in green ribbon on it. It looks rather sad in the box, and reading this, I realize it looks sad b/c it's apart from the set. I liked the look of the 4 stockings on the banister every year. Just one stocking...lonely.

When my sister got married the first time, I knit her and her husband stockings for Christmas. She kept his stocking when they divorced, but picked his name out. Years later, when she married husband #2, she asked me to embroider my b-i-l's name on it, which I did. I've knit each of my nieces stockings for their first Christmas, too.

While we don't really celebrate christmas in our home, we do have a stocking tradition for CG--hers is filled by nisser, little Norwegian mythical creatures who deliver gifts. The first stocking I knit for her came out horribly, for some reason, but I didn't have time to fix it. the proportions are wildly off. Two years ago I knit her another stocking with a proper Scandinavian pattern, which came out very fine, but she prefers the original (in part b/c it is bigger, I think).

Your stories always make me want to tell stories!

Happy Christmas to you and yours.

De said...

My mother made stockings for the immediate family - mine is green felt with a doll made out of wooden beads stitched on it. I have it, bit don't use it because it doesn't match the rest here. The Dolly's face got smeared when our miniature schnauzer licked her.

Kyla said...

Lovely!

I have my stocking from childhood, pink felt with lace around the top and a lace snowman appliqued on that my mom made. Josh doesn't have a special one. The kids both have store bought ones, but I think Santa will be bringing new ones with their names on them this year!

Rima said...

Lovely. Merry Christmas, M!

The Absence of Alternatives said...

And... welcome home! :-)

Bibliomama said...

That is beautiful. I don't get the brother's husband joke - I shouldn't get it, right?

My kids have gi-normous stockings that my mother made them, complete with little bells and ornaments. I have a picture of Angus at six months old in the stocking. It's ridiculous how much crap we have to get to stuff in them. But I still love them.

Stimey said...

Love this. Merry Christmas.

Jocelyn said...

I tell you this: there are very few blogs hanging out in the blogosphere that marry heart with writing ability. You have both, and what a delight to come here on this Christmas Eve and witness your nostalgia and ability. Thank you.

Angeline said...

Its beautiful! Have a blessed Christmas!

alejna said...

I loved this post so much. Those stockings have so much character and individuality, plus they are beautiful. I'm so impressed by your mother's skill, and yours, too! (One of these days I'll have to post a photo of my somewhat less impressive home-made stocking. Admittedly, I was 9 when I made it...)

I'm glad the stockings are home with you now.

Sarah said...

Sigh. Lovely.

YourFireAnt said...

In our family we have about 12 stockings by now (some of them with a different name on each side of the trim, for whichever of the two shows up, or they might have to share), but no mantle. We just sling 'em across the room to each other.

;-)

painted maypole said...

we had homemade felt stockings, too. but things went in early (remember, we never did Santa at our house) and we spent lots of time squeezing, poking, and prodding to figure out the contents.

I miss the felt stockings, but now we each have a homemade quilted one, courtesy, again, of my mother.

heidi said...

Love.
Also... your brother's husband makes the best naughty cookies. *sigh*

V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios said...

So much of Christmas's magic is in the traditions and the memories.