Saturday, December 3, 2011


“Shirley Jean hung up her stocking at the fireplace and Dad did too as he usually does when a grandchild is here.” Ina on Christmas, 1936
As I mentioned on the previous post, the stockings at Mother’s house were filled in a bedroom. The adults slipped in there during the evening and completed the task. Then, when the children were asleep, the stockings were quietly carried downstairs and hung on the mantel.

At some point, bright little Monica Nunan questioned things as they were. She was supposed to hang her stocking on the mantel for Santa to fill, she said. And what about the cookies and milk for the right jolly old elf, she demanded to know. I’d always kinda wondered about these things, too.

So, things changed then – probably about 1970. We all hung our stockings and the youngsters began a new tradition of composing a letter to Santa which was left with the cookies and milk. Of course, now Santa’s already tired helpers had to wait through this ritual before beginning their work. A rule was established that kids could visit upstairs in bed all they wanted but they couldn’t come back downstairs – a rule that was broken, of course. (“Mo-o-o-m! Milo and Clinton won’t leave me alone.”)

Being a Santa’s helper at my mother’s house is one of my most cherished memories. In the latter years, it was mostly my sister Joni and I who helped Santa with the filling. What fun! We packed the stockings full, and when we couldn’t get more in, one of us would sit down and re-pack. We played with toys, ate the plateful of cookies, and laughed till we cried. Of course, we were tired, but that didn’t matter. It was still fun. If I were given the chance to re-live a moment in my life, this time with Joni would rank amongst my top choices.

When I began taking pictures of the stockings as they hung by the fireplace, my mother disapproved. Santa fills the stockings, she said, and just how was I going to explain the picture. But I knew there would come a day when I would appreciate the pictures, so I took them anyway – and I’m glad I did. KW


Chris said...

Memories are most precious things. We can always hug them to us, no matter where we are or how much time has passed.

Kathy said...

Chris -- Your comment is exactly what Mother said as we cleaned out the house. She added that life *is* about making memories.

Hallie said...

Surely I couldn't have been the first to break the stay upstairs rule. I'm not sure if that was the moment that I understood how Christmas worked, but I do remember feeling surprised at how much fun everyone was having. I bet you had trouble making me go back upstairs!

Kathy said...

The cousins were mostly happy enough to stay upstairs. Initially we waited until things quieted down, but we finally decided we couldn't hold out that long ourselves. You're the youngest, remember, and by the time Monica suggested the change, she was already six. And I don't think you were surprised either.