Stocking Stuffers

Crazy Gym Lady (to a guy leaving the gym): “You won’t relax. You’re high energy like me. I keep myself busy.”

“Manic,” I mutter under my breath.


I dream sometimes about missing holidays. I know I’ve mentioned this before from time to time.

It’s one of my standard anxiety-dreams, along with the one about taking a final without having been to class all semester. (Why is it always Calculus?? It wasn’t as hard as Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry. Yet somehow I have this lingering idea that there’s one semester of Calculus I still “owe” somebody, somewhere. And of course I never have studied for it…)

The other night, I dreamed that I forgot stocking stuffers. Everyone was at our house; everything was ready. And I realized I had no stocking stuffers for anyone. Off I went to buy some, which segued into the long dream of the strange and endless store which morphs into some kind of haunted Victorian mansion with a boat at the dock I never seem to reach.

You guys have this dream, too, right?

Anyway, the stocking-stuffer deal is pretty much mine in the first place. I suspect the rest of the family would drop it if I let them. Which I won’t. I love the touch of magic in it. Playing Santa. I like that we have to sneak around, trying to avoid each other late on Christmas Eve, or early Christmas morning, to tuck little gifts in the stockings. Generally they’re silly things. We each find three per person. It can be stuff like lottery tickets, candy, mini-screwdrivers, and iTunes gift cards. Sometimes someone gets frisky and does a more expensive small something – jewelry or tech devices.

It’s fun and a challenge to see what people come up with.

But, because they have to be small, require inventiveness and because they’re low-key, people put-off acquiring the stocking-stuffers. Then you have to keep track of them without nametags and keep the unwrapped things hidden. Just a bit more effort.

Every year someone asks “are we doing stuffers this year?” hoping we can drop the tradition. Always I talk them into keeping the magic for just one more year. Let’s not let it slide just yet.

Last night someone said to me on Twitter that her family is thinking about Denny’s for Thanksgiving dinner. I’d been teasing someone else about whether Southerners knew how to to a “real” Thanksgiving and passed her when she assured me they have pumpkin pie, not sweet potato pie. This other gal jumped in to tweak me with her Denny’s deal. I obliged her with crying blasphemy and she said she knew – that’s why they like it.

But is it really being iconoclastic? Breaking tired traditions for the freedom and energy of it can be a terrific thing. Sometimes though, we just don’t feel like putting in the effort, so we dress it up as being rebellious.

I usually find the results are worth the effort. It’s tempting to let things slide, to let competing projects, like crying baby birds demanding to be fed NOW, take priority. But it’s not always the loudest, most obnoxious thing that deserves our attention. It’s up to us to choose.

And, to whomever I owe a semester of Calculus, I swear next time I’ll study.

9 Replies to “Stocking Stuffers”

  1. The class I've missed all semester? Religion! It doesn't take a Jung or a Freud to interpret this one. But giving up stocking stuffers? NEVER!

  2. Ah, there's the tree my apple sits next to! And very funny that the class you "owe" is Religion, Mom. Perhaps some tutoring?

  3. My mom holds fast to the stocking-stuffer tradition. She's put the kids and grandkids of her local AVON lady through college with little Christmas surprises.

    That said, Thanksgiving random-dish feasting has been done on paper plates in tiny hospital rooms, and it's nothing unusual to celebrate Christmas in January. We're more focused on the family gathering than on adhering to someone else's interpretation of how we should spend a pre-defined time together.

  4. I have that dream about having a final I never went to the class for. Meh.

    We never did stockings growing up. My sister is the only one who took up that tradition and she clutches it like a lifeline. Everyone in her immediate family has a stocking, including her dog, my dog, and her son's girlfriend's dog. Yeah, so she likes my dog more than me. I can live with that. Anyway, tradition in my family is just enjoying a good meal and each other as much as we can.

  5. I'm actively searching for Gym Lady's blog, because I'm sure her posts about you would be terribly amusing. I'll let you know when I find it.

  6. Erm, Danica – okay. Our pets totally don't have stockings.

    Kev – I'll have to tell you about her adventures with the check-in computer sometime. Believe me: there is no blog.

  7. The whole stocking stuffer thing was big when I was a kid, but my family apparently did it wrong. Our stockings had no presents – they had fruit and nuts and candy and my sister and I always looked forward to them. The fruit were the great big, perfect specimens you see in the catalogs now. Thing is, when we were kids, those were hard to come by. Dad was in the military and we were stationed some damned inhospitable places – yet Mom and Dad always found the prettiest, tastiest fruit and nuts and candies for the little kids. When I got married and tried putting nice pretty fruit and nuts and candy in a Christmas stocking, you'd think the recipient, who shall remain nameless, had received coal. So, now, if presents fit in the stocking, fine. If not, tough luck. Oh yes. I am that much of a humbug. Institutionalized consumerism R not I. Unless it was oranges and pretty polished apples…

  8. Now wait a sec. I'm Southern and I think we know how to do turkey day pretty durn good, if I do say so. Pecan pies, banana pudding, Mom's cornbread dressing, mashed taters… YUMMY. 🙂

    I do stocking stuffers for fun for the kid. I usually forget they're in there until well after Christmas morning, though. I suck at being Santa. 😀

  9. Marcella – I love the idea of exotic and beautiful fruits, nuts and choice candy. I'm so on that…

    Michelle, Michelle, Michelle – we SO have to talk. Banana pudding at Thanksgiving?? Next you'll tell me you stuff the turkey with grits!

    I hope you all know I'm kidding on this topic. I love variety in the Thanksgiving meal. Whatever rocks your boat. (Except Denny's. I draw the line there.)

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