When I was growing up, we didn't hang stockings - we didn't have a fireplace, for one thing, but it just wasn't part of our tradition. But I learned about stockings from Dickens and other writers, and I didn't like being left out, especially if it held the potential for more gifts, so I made my own and hung it on the wall. And what do you know? On Christmas morning, I found it filled with wonderful surprises!
We had a fireplace when my kids were small, and therefore a mantel for their stockings, so the tradition continued: an empty stocking on Christmas Eve became a personalized treasure box on Christmas morning.
As the kids have gotten older, though, Santa has had a tougher time filling their stockings. They want less and less, but what they want cost more and more, and Santa's budget doesn't stretch very far beyond the gifts under the tree.
So the last few years Santa has tried to go the practical route and stuff the stockings with things they needed anyway...lip balm, cough syrup, acne medicine, toothbrushes...
Not exciting stuff for sure. Nothing to make them run to their stockings.
I remember a few Christmas mornings as a child when I found an orange and an apple in my stocking. What the heck? My mom explained that in the days before refrigerated trucks and year-round fruit, apples and oranges were considered an indulgence...a rare, very special gift.
There is also a legend about St. Nicholas rescuing poor maidens from being sold into slavery by tossing gold coins in through a window for their dowries...the coins landed in stockings hanging by the fire to dry. An orange or tangerine, or even an apple, in the toe of a stocking symbolizes the generous gift of gold coins from St. Nicholas.
I don't think an apple or orange in their stocking would excite my kids, but lately I've been thinking of other fruits I wish I could get Santa to stuff in my children's stockings...
Right judgement, understanding, faith, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, long suffering, wisdom, knowledge and understanding, strength, reverence/piety, hope and optimism, prudence, discernment, fortitude/courage, justice, modesty, chastity, and, of course, love...
Now those are some precious, rare fruits...not that my kids don't already have a little of those, but you can never have too many, right?
Just like shoes.
And, here are a few others I would want Santa to squeeze in as well...discomfort, anger, tears, foolishness...
I hear you...you're wondering why in the world I would wish these for my children... especially when I know they've already had some of each. (What kind of mother am I, anyway??)
Well, here's why (from Philip Yancey's book, Prayer)...
May God bless you with discomfort,
at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
so that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger,
at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.
May God bless you with tears,
to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war,
so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their
pain to joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness,
to believe that you can make a difference in this world,
so that you can do what others claim cannot be done
to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor
Yep, that would be the ideal stocking, stuffed and overflowing...
This is my contribution to One Word Wednesday (better late than never!) This week's word is Stuffed - click on the other contributions below and feel free to add your own!