When I was a teenager, my mom and I decided to make Christmas stockings for the three people in our family – my parents and me. At the time we had a sewing machine with a double needle feature, so we created each person’s initial in green and white stitching on the red stockings. We hung the stockings on Christmas Eve, placed some small items in them, and looked to see what we got the next morning.
When I got married several years later, I made a stocking for my new husband. Green is his favorite color, but not that shade of green! (I guess that’s the fabric I had available at the time.) By this time we had instituted the practice of each person putting one small gift into each other person’s stocking.
When each of our two children was born, I made a new stocking. The two-color feature was no longer available, so each initial was a single color contrasting with the stocking color. I never made stockings for my husband’s parents, but they got out some large stockings that they already had, and for several years, we hung up stockings twice each December, once at my in-laws’ house and once at my parents’ house.
Now we have a son-in-law and a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren. The stockings for our children’s spouses are pretty plain, with a simple initial like our daughter’s and son’s. Adding a new daughter-in-law with the same initial as my mom caused Mom to add a small cross-stitch G to her large initial L (G standing for Grandma, of course).
For the new generation I decided to get a little a fancier, especially since there are now more L’s and more stockings altogether. I cross-stitched a small Christmas picture and the child’s name and added it to the stocking. The stockings are still all the same size and shape; I cut out each new stocking by laying an old stocking on the fabric and cutting around it, leaving room for the seams.
We pin the stockings to the back of the sofa, attach them to kitchen chairs, or use a towel rack over a door, whatever works. When an item won’t quite fit (or won’t fit at all), it ends up somewhere outside but near the stocking.
Neither my husband or I were taught by our parents to believe in Santa Claus because they didn’t want us to become disillusioned later and decide God was also imaginary. Our children never received presents from Santa either. We sort of pretended that the presents in the stockings were from Santa Claus. However, as soon as they were old enough, we helped each child choose a package of inexpensive items, such as pencils or combs, at the store and then participate in the tradition of putting presents in other people’s stockings.
For the last few years, our family – my husband and I, my mom, and our children and grandchildren – have been getting together right after Christmas. Both of our children married into larger families than ours, and it’s simpler to let them visit there on Christmas. But whenever we get together, on the night closest to Christmas, we hang up our stockings; and the next morning, we look to see what we got. I look forward to when my grandchildren are old enough to experience the joy of giving by placing gifts in the stockings.
Grandma Mouse’s family Christmas game, Christmas Bingo, is inspired by the tradition of personalized Christmas stockings. The bingo cards feature stockings personalized with the names of family members, combined with other Christmas symbols. For those of you who are more interested in personalized ornaments, there is an ornament version.
What are your favorite Christmas traditions with your family?