Psst! Come here. Sshhhhh, it's a secret. Do you see this? Do you know what it is? It's stocking innards. Yup this is the stuff that's going in a couple of stockings that are happening this Christmas. You can't tell a soul about what you saw here!
Looks tantalizing doesn't it? Every single wrapped parcel is a mystery. What's inside could be almost anything! That's why every item is wrapped. Drags out the surprise a little bit longer. Y'see in our family, that's part of the fun. It's not enough to open your gifts. First you have to torture yourself a little bit. We shake and poke and rattle and sniff every wrapped package. We try to read through the wrapping and hold it up to the light. Is it chocolate? (that's probably me guessing) Is it fragrance? (also probably me guessing) It feels like a book (that could literally be any of us guessing) It's soft! It makes noise! It's bendy! Is it socks? Is it a pencil? And anyone except the person who actually already knows what's in the package is allowed to speculate too. That's part of the fun.
Then to drag things out even more, we open our gifts one at a time. Round and round the circle we go, each person slowly opening ONE thing, remarking, commenting, admiring, laughing and then the next person opens ONE thing. With a really good stocking year, we can spend quite some time on this project.
I know that not every family does it this way. Some families don't do Christmas stockings at all. Some families do stockings but it's a melee, everyone opening at once, paper and ribbon flying, and it's over in minutes. some folks do stockings but nothing is wrapped, so that when the recipient opens the stocking, once again, it's over in minutes. You can peek in the top and see what most of the items are straight away. I'm not saying that is the wrong way to do it. Nope, not at all. I'm just saying that's not our way of doing it.
There is almost always a little stocking spillover. Either too many things to fit in the stocking, or a few things that simply do not conform to the size or shape of a stocking. That is not only allowed, it's encouraged. We like generously plump stockings.
And some of it is silly. Some of it is serious. Some of it is useful. Some of it is useless. Some of it is edible. Some of it is readable. Some of it is none of these things. All of it is awesome. All of it is part of our family tradition. The Christmas Stocking Tradition looms large in our Family Culture.
I love family traditions. Both ours and other people's
I've heard of families that, every year, open one gift on Christmas Eve and that gift is always new pajamas. I love that! We don't do it, but I love that somebody does. Some families do a formal family portrait every year at Christmas. I think that is adorable. We don't do that either, but what a charming idea. Vive la difference, I say!
And our traditions are important to us. That's why when two individuals decide to share their lives together, it's important for both of them to have a say in what constitutes the new traditions (some from each side) that they share to become a new families' worth of tradition. Occasionally a little trial and error is involved. For other's it's hardcore. It's the thing that Christmas just wouldn't feel like Christmas without. For some folks it might be the family going to Christmas Eve services that is the deal breaker, no compromise item. For other's it's singing carols or watching The Grinch on TV all together while eating popcorn or like our family the Christmas stockings.....well this list is both endless and endlessly appealing.
Probably the biggest commonality every family has is the tradition of The Keeping of the Secrets! And Christmas secrets are the very best secrets.
I remember my own kids coming close to imploding in their effort to not accidentally slip and tell a Christmas Secret. I can remember my mom keeping a Christmas secret so well that she completely forgot about the gift until months later. She was embarrassed, but I thought it was hilarious. I was not even remotely offended. I'll take a Christmas gift in March absolutely!
All secrets can be hard to keep secret. But Christmas secrets are usually the hardest. Which is why it's such a big deal that I'm trusting you to keep your lip zipped about what you saw here today. Ssshhhh. Christmas secret stocking stuff!! Remember, I'm trusting you!
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.