Posts Tagged ‘gifts joy Christmas’

… my favorite things…

December 16, 2010

My wife and I stuffing our stockings on Christmas eve is one of my favorite things.  Every Christmas, no matter our financial status, we hang our family stockings with care and each of us secretly fills the ones not our own: Virginia and I,  Alexis [our teen], Frisbee [our canine], and Relic [the yard cat] each have a plush fat stocking filled to our liking.

Stocking stuffing is very personal and loving.  What you stuff into a loved one’s stocking tells a lot about what you know of that person, what your relationship is, and how’s your sense of humor.

There were our years without a child when we would stuff with intimate items and quirky merchandise that, when we emptied our stockings on Christmas morn, would make us smile, or blush, or want to slip off into another room altogether… or just relax in front of the fireplace, wood burning only slightly hotter than our passions.

But wow, that was a few holiday seasons ago… More recently, we are whimsical. My wife is neurotic about public toilets, so I put a personal-sized roll of toilet paper and seat covers in her stocking.  She’s also a stickler on fighting stains, so I drop a Tide stain stick into her stocking.

Some of the usual items that bring joy to my wife include Carmex lip balm, note pads, pens, mechanical pencils, a paperback novel, Altoids, cigarettes, socks, perfume knock-offs of ‘Beautiful’ and the annual year-end People Magazine Special Issue of the 50 Most Interesting People of the year.   2008 was the last year I did the People Mag.   She recognized just two of the 50 and admitted that pop culture had passed us by…

One year, when our stocking stuffing tradition was at its obnoxious peek, I swear we combined for a $500 shopping spree for useful and useless, interesting but common, and appreciated but cast aside ‘stuff’ for ourselves, our daughter, our animals, and each other.  It became a contest of how large an object [a curling iron came in second to a pair of boots] could fit into a handcrafted family Christmas stocking.

There were tough times, too, slow economic years — like when we started our business earlier than 14 Christmases ago — when the stockings hung thinly on the chimney with care, and our wrapped gifts in boxes under the tree barely cashed in at a hundred dollars total.

One year, in Roseland, NJ, after we had quit our day jobs and had no frivolous money and no gifts to give  each other, was perhaps our most fun Christmas ever, pre-Alexis.   My wife cut out pictures from gift catalogs, magazines and travel brochures.  She found discarded boxes at Fairchild’s Market, and recycled tissue paper and giftwrap from a previous year.

On Christmas morning, I spied several rather large packages and found myself on the verge of a panic attack as I wondered what on earth was in each box and how the hell she had paid for them… When the time came, I slowly opened the first one with my name on a tag, and pushed aside layers of paper and tissue, only to discover a tiny square of colored glossy paper deep inside the box.  The square revealed a catalog picture of a long, warm coat I had wanted and needed. Taped to the back of the picture was a note that said, “This is the coat I would have gotten you if I could… I’ll find other ways to keep you warm instead.”

We laughed for hours as we opened all of the ‘gifts’ that day, and we shed tears of joy, not worry or remorse, for the simple, loving, thoughtful gifts of that Christmas day, when hot chocolate spiked with brandy was as good as a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.  For my part, I had gathered acorns and dried leaves for ‘a gifts of nature’ Christmas, as well as plastic chains with beads, from which I’d made ‘expensive’ jewelry and facsimiles of what she would have wanted, had I had the money…
We both took away and gave memories we shall never forget.  Since then, we both still give some modest gifts that mean a lot more than their priced value, even today.   My wife would love a “Kindle” electronic book reader for Christmas this year, and  I’ll probably get it for her.
Before she opens it, however, she’ll see a package labeled  “kindle.”   It will contain small dry pieces of fire wood.  We’ll throw those into the fireplace, and we will laugh, and we will hug us both a merry little Christmas.