I think I've finally conquered the decorating at our house. The tree is up, the garland is draped around the living room, and the stockings are hung with great care.
Daniel has a beautiful quilted and embroidered Christmas stocking made by his grandmother. Grandma Phoebe is quite crafty and has made all of the grandchildren stockings, blankets and other handmade items. Daniel's only complaint about the stocking is that the sock is too small, He doesn't think it holds enough loot.
While I was unpacking decorations, I came across my old red and white knit stocking. It has my name stitched across the top and a little silver jingle bell dangling from the toe. My brother and sister and I each had one as children. While I'm not sure who made for us - they were definitely handmade - and they have lasted nearly 50 years.
The best part about that stocking was the stuff we found inside on Christmas morning. We thought we were very blessed and loved - a box of crayons, some colorful socks or a pair of wool mittens. There would also be candy canes and maybe a Hershey bar - not something we got every day. But the best part was the enormous navel orange and a big juicy Red Delicious apple. They were like mutant fruits, but they were so good. We looked forward to those oranges and apples all year long.
Actually, we got quite a few of those large fruits during the holidays. After the Christmas Sunday school program at church - or the bathrobe brigade as we called it - the Sunday school superintendent would stand at the foot of the stairs and hand each child a small brown paper bag. Inside, there were several pieces of ribbon hard candy, a wrapped and decorated sugar cookie in the shape of a star or angel, a pencil and that much anticipated ginormous orange. I can remember taking a sniff inside the bag and I can still recall the scent of citrus and vanilla. It was quite a treat.
Elementary school parties were often another source of fruit offerings. Our teachers would bestow an orange or an apple and a "Merry Christmas" pencil on each desk before we dashed off for the holiday break.
We try to keep it kind of simple for Daniel, too. We look for small books, little toys or puzzles, clever gadgets or collectible trading cards. He's pretty good and generally very appreciative about what he receives in his stocking, but I doubt that he would be satisfied with a pair of wool mittens and an orange like we were years ago.
This year, our two grandchildren will be here for Christmas and I am really looking forward to that. I can't wait to read them Christmas stories, watch their faces when they open their presents and see them play with their toys on Christmas morning. And of course, we'll have two more little stockings to fill. I wonder how they feel about oranges?