Sunday, November 19, 2006

And their stockings were hung by the chimney with care...

I was going to post this at my own blog, but thought, "Hey, wouldn't it be fun to agitate Kenna's readers into early holiday panic?" Because with Thanksgiving creeping up on us, we simply can't be bombarded TOO SOON with Christmas music, lights and other detritus, can we?!

I submitted a brief story and the following picture to my local newspaper after they requested reader "stocking stories." So here it is:

My husband and I married in 1990, combining our meager Christmas decorations. Among those was my standard-issue red felt stocking, my name glitter-glued along the top. But my husband's stocking ... well, it was something else! It was a huge - stretched over time to two-feet long - , knitted stocking with a green, yarn-fringed tree, lots of beads, jingle bells, trinkets and faded foam pieces sewed onto it. It was frayed with yarn pieces sticking out everywhere. Beads and trinkets had fallen off over the years and it was horribly stained. Compared to the generic red stockings my family had used, my husband's stocking was just so huge and overwhelmingly gaudy. And filthy! I wanted to chuck it.

But my husband's maternal grandmother, Grandma Doris, had knit the stocking for him when he was a baby. He'd had it all his life. I reluctantly accepted the fact we'd be hanging that stretched-out knit monstrosity every Christmas. As our first Christmas together neared, I received a package from Grandma Doris. In it was another stocking knit in sparkling white and crisp, brilliant colors with clean, bright beads and trinkets sewed onto it. My name was knit into the green band at the top. I'd never had a stocking like this before. Suddenly it didn't seem so gaudy at all. It was so special, handmade with me in mind by someone who welcomed me to her family.

Many years passed before we started our own family. By the time our daughter was born, Grandma Doris's mind faltered as she'd developed Alzheimer's. Sadly, she was unable to knit a stocking for our daughter.

Last year my mother-in-law gave me all of Grandma Doris's stocking patterns, instructions and the graphed designs she'd created for all the stockings she'd knitted over the years. Included with these was the list of friends and family who had received her hand-knit stockings. There were 78 people! No two stockings were alike.

Grandma Doris is no longer with us but her stockings live on in dozens of households. I feel very lucky to have the original knitting patterns.

(The following photo shows my husband's old stocking, my stocking, the knitting patterns, instructions, graphs and the list of stocking recipients.)

(Can you find the stocking labeled "Dick?")

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