Now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s time to get our Christmas decorations out to bedeck our home for celebrating this joyous time of year. In years past, I’ve written about the Christmas trees and Christmas ornaments my wife and I have had over our lifetime together. But this year, I’m writing about those items that we might not think as much about, the ones that typically hang from our fireplace mantel—Christmas stockings. Because the stockings we have, like our ornaments, are treasures that have endured over time.
In going back through our old Christmas photos, I quickly realized that our stockings were often barely in the photo, certainly never the focus of the photo. In today’s vernacular, you might even say a rogue stocking “photo bombed” whatever was in the camera’s field of focus. I was disappointed to learn that these items were never the center of attention that upon reflection, they so rightly deserved. But I did find enough photos to at least paint a rough sketch of them over their lifetime with us.
Interestingly, when I came across this photo, I discovered that the stockings we have now are actually not the ones we had when we first got married. These first stockings—ones I didn’t even remember us having—must have been bought along with some of our first tree ornaments the year after we got married. Since our apartment did not have a fireplace mantel to hang them from, our stockings hung from this console TV (smile if you remember those).
These two stockings didn’t last long because soon they were replaced with hand-made, hand-sown stockings that my oldest sister made for us and gave us one Christmas.
I don’t know how long these took my sister to make, but I know they reflected the love she had put into them and they were most appreciated. And each Christmas as our family grew; she lovingly created new ones for our kids as well.
Before our first son was born, we moved from an apartment into our first home. Unfortunately, like our two apartments we lived in after getting married, our home did not have a fireplace either. So I was back to finding creative ways to hang our stockings.
The first year in our home, I hung them from the casing of the doorjamb leading into the living room, just barely visible in this old photo. We must have had to duck under them as we entered the room.
The next year, either my wife or I came up with the idea of hanging them from the top of the window frame in our den. Where else they may have hung in that first home I don’t know. Fortunately, that problem was solved when we bought our second home.
Finally, we had a proper place to hang our stockings where Santa could easily find them after his trip down the chimney.
And the next year when our second son was born, my sister lovingly made a stocking for him as well (the snowman stocking just visible in this photo).
We lived in that second home until our oldest son graduated from high school. And every Christmas, our stockings adorned that mantel, aging right along with our kids.
When we moved to our third home, we again had a fireplace mantel from which to hang our stockings. And a bonus in this house was that there was enough room to have our Christmas tree in the same room and so our tree and stockings finally came together in one place.
The next year, an addition was necessary, as our youngest son wanted our dog, Cassie to have her own stocking.
So for the next few years, these six stockings hung from our mantel.
But one year, our mantel was overflowing when we had relatives in town for Christmas. Suddenly we needed room for extra stockings, all of which couldn’t even fit on our mantel!
After that Christmas, our original six stockings faithfully soldiered on for several more years.
And then, our two oldest kids got married and we needed to add two more stockings. Although not of the original handmade design my sister had made for us, additions were made for our new son-in-law and daughter-in-law…
…and just two years later, another stocking addition after our youngest son’s snowman. Finally, the stockings themselves became the center of attention for the photo.
But wait there’s more. Now we need to find room on our mantel to squeeze in three more stockings for our new grandchildren!
So now after over 30+ years, our Christmas stocking collection has grown from just two, to five, to eight and soon 11. Will our mantel handle that many stockings? Thankfully there’s a catalogue company that can help me out with that wonderful dilemma.