Some years ago I read that creating traditions makes for strong, healthy families. I realize creating and continuing traditions has been my familial responsibility for the last 25 years.
With a full-time job and the stress of doing so much extra in a short time, I have found that Christmas traditions of baking cookies with the children, putting up a tree with age-old ornaments each with its own story, and writing cards to everyone I haven’t thought of for a year lessened the pleasure of the holiday.
Then when it’s all done, I’m glad that I continued to press forward.
Well, that is, until last year. The Christmas stocking tradition, which went back some 60 years, came close to finding me throwing up my hands and telling my husband that we should escape to the nearest hideout to wait out the holiday.
Something becomes a tradition if it is repeated over and over. When I first met my husband, he took me to his home to visit at Christmas time. From the moment I walked through the door and saw the Christmas decorations, I knew that tradition was big with this family.
Of note were the large red felt Christmas stockings hung in a row. Each stocking had little felt ornaments, such as a wagon, angel, or felt Christmas trees, sewed on it. The owner’s initials were found on the stocking’s cuff.
Yes, they were beautiful.
The first Christmas after we were married, we arrived at my in-laws, and, lo, I had a matching stocking with my initials hanging there in the row. It then hit me that these were home-made Christmas stockings my mother-in-law made.
When our two sons came along, my mother-in-law made certain that their stockings hung with the rest of the family the Christmas after their births. By then I knew that making decorations, including stockings, was something that my mother-in-law really enjoyed doing.
As the boys grew older, they liked spending Christmas at home, so the stockings came to our house. Then they grew up, and, one by one, they brought home wives. It was then that I grasped that it was my job to keep up the tradition by making Christmas stockings, but I was a woman cut from completely different fabric than my mother-in-law.
I do have a sewing machine, but sitting around sewing on little ornaments simply isn’t my idea of pleasure — or relaxation. But making one stocking in a year didn’t seem too overpowering. I was game for the project.
I asked about my new daughters-in-law’s middle names, and their initials appeared at the top of the stockings as of old. Thankfully our sons didn’t marry the same year.
Next grandchildren started arriving. I was so excited about being a grandmother, that it didn’t seem too difficult to make two stockings in 2011 and two more in 2013. Then we thought we were done. The mission was completed.
The tradition of sewing home-made Christmas stockings had survived during my years of being responsible. Psychologically, I appreciated not having the stress of making Christmas stockings ever again. I also felt a bit of satisfaction at having contributed to a strong healthy family by keeping up a tradition.
Then in 2017, we had a surprise. Not just one, but healthy twin boys. It took a while to get it into my head that I had two more grandchildren. By the time euphoria settled into realization, Christmas was upon us.
It was then that I comprehended I wasn’t finished making Christmas stockings. I had two to make in short order. I hadn’t even kept the pattern, green and red felt fabric, stars, or sequins. I had to start over, and it was almost too late.
Then it occurred to me that the twins were only a few months old. It wouldn’t matter if they didn’t have matching stockings that first Christmas. But then, it was tradition. What would the older grandchildren think if there were no stockings for the two babies?
I rallied. I told myself that a Christmas stocking for each member of the family was important, and I had better get a grip.
I buzzed to the fabric store to pick up supplies and spent the following evenings under a strong light, stitching little ornaments onto the stockings and cutting out the twins’ initials to sew on the cuffs.
For certain, making two stockings instead of one at the last moment made the process tedious. Once more I met the deadline, and the Christmas stockings hung in a row for Santa to fill with little toys, candies, and a tangerine.
As I looked down the row of beautiful matching Christmas stockings my mother-in-law and I made, it occurred to me that each grandchild will take that Christmas stocking through life as my husband, our children, and I have done. The stockings will be brought out each Christmas, and the grandchild will remember that it was made by a caring grandmother.
It couldn’t be better than that. MSN