Prompt: Did you have one? Where did you hang it? What did you get in it? Do you have any Christmas stockings used by your ancestors?
My mother had handmade all of our stockings. They were red with a white band at the top with our names written on in green. She had not made one for herself. Hers was store-bought with a picture of Santa Claus on it. As we added partners and grandchildren to the mix, my mother made them their own stockings and has since replaced our old ones. She herself still uses her old stocking.
I grew up in a house without a fireplace so we couldn’t really hang our stockings in the more traditional manner. So, for as long as I can remember, we laid the stockings over various chairs in the living room. When we moved, our new house had a fireplace but we tended to have the Christmas tree in a different room so the placing of the stockings continued. Even today, in my own home, we will probably not actually hang the stockings because our fireplace is again in a different room from the tree. When we come down in the morning, Santa has filled the stockings and left them on ‘our’ chairs.
We always had an orange in the toe of the stocking and a candy cane hanging over the edge of the top of the stocking. What was in between varied from year to year, but there were usually socks and a toothbrush and other assorted ‘necessities’. Then there was the ‘fun stuff’ – candy, chocolate, little toys, a stuffed animal. And that’s pretty much how Santa handles stockings today – there are always some practical items as well as some fun stuff.
Excerpt from Where the Saints Have Trod, Judith St. John, 1974 (Oxford University Press). The book is based on the author’s childhood memories (ca 1914-1924). She was my great-aunt.
“We hung up no ordinary stockings on Christmas Eve, but special bright blue knitted stockings that had belonged to an ancestor who died before my mother was born. He must have been a giant, for those stockings were so long that they almost touched the floor when we hung them on the mantel. They were always kept in the Christmas truck with the decorations.”
“It was still dark when the alarm sounded. It was morning. “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas.” Everyone shouted the greeting as loudly as possible. In a twinkling, my brother, Elizabeth and I were racing downstairs to our stockings. I let the others go first in case Santa Claus had not found us in the new parish. But he had come all right! Our stockings were bulging. The tree looked like a fairyland tree in the faint light.
“ “He found us. He found us.” We all climbed on to the big bed in my mother and father’s room. Aunt Rhoda came, too, wrapped in a blanket. The things in our stockings were a great surprise to everyone. A red candy apple, a little candy donkey, a toy watch, a puzzle, nuts, raisins, candy, figs, dates, a shining apple, and in the toe, a fat, bouncing orange. When all our treasures had been unpacked, we sang our jolliest Christmas songs, beginning with “Merry, merry, merry, merry Christmas bells”. I thought Santa Claus had never been so generous.”