Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Stockings Were Hung by the Chimney With Care

I love Christmas stockings. I don’t mean the actual, physical stocking that you hang by the chimney on Christmas Eve (although I do like those an awful lot). I mean the stuff that stockings get stuffed with. I love choosing stocking stuffers for other people, and I love opening my own stocking on Christmas morning. In fact, if I had to choose between getting a Christmas stocking and getting presents under the tree, I think I’d pick the stocking.

My mom was always the best stocking stuffer, so I’m sure that’s why I love stockings so much. There was always a predictable group of categories of stuff that would be in my stocking every year. Without fail, there was always a new toothbrush, a few pairs of earrings, a package of underwear in pretty colors or funny prints, silly socks, toiletries like scented hand lotion or fancy chapstick or bright nailpolish or lipstick or bath beads, some kind of goofy desk toy, a crossword puzzle book, a calendar, a daily planner, a CD or two, some nice pens and pencils, fancy tea or coffee or hot cocoa mix, some kind of unusual snack like freeze-dried pear slices or gourmet trail mix (once it was even a tin of octopus meat) and a few handfuls of the recipient’s favorite kind of candy. Mom kept a “Christmas box” under her bed year-round and picked up interesting things she saw whenever she happened across them. The whole collection probably cost less than 20 bucks, but digging into that stocking was like opening a treasure chest.

Of course, she had the advantage of stuffing stockings mainly for girls, which I think is a lot easier. Females of every age tend to appreciate toiletries more than males do, and most men don’t get excited about cheap jewelry. So when I look for ideas of what to stuff Herb’s stocking with, it’s not quite so obvious or easy. Sure, I can buy him a can of fancy shaving gel, but he doesn’t use hand lotion or bubble bath. He’s not even a big candy eater so filling out the empty spaces in the stocking with extra handfuls of candy isn’t such a winner. He does love hot cocoa, so I always have to include a handful of single-serving packets of the darkest, richest cocoa mix I can find. And a few nice pens are something he enjoys. But with all his electronic gadgets and devices and online sites, he doesn’t use puzzle books or calendars or daily planners. He doesn’t even use CDs anymore, since downloading music is so easy and convenient. So I really have to dig into my creative brain to find things that interest him. I can occasionally figure out electronic things like a thumb drive or a certain type of cord or connector or even a gift card for some mp3 downloads, but that takes a good bit of sleuthing and a lot of hoping that he won’t buy whatever it is for himself in the week before Christmas!

But this year, I get to do a stocking for Ryan. And even though he is technically male, he’s young enough to not really fall into the “hard to buy for” male category. In fact, he’s about as easy to please as is humanly possible, since I could fill his entire stocking with crumpled up newspaper and he’d think it was the coolest thing on the face of the earth. I’m sure I’ll end up including some boring practical stuff that he doesn’t really care about like socks or a pair of mittens, but I can probably do a sweep through the dollar store and fill his stocking with things he'll love for less than 10 bucks. A few plastic measuring cups, a wooden spoon or two, a colander, couple of cheap saucepans and I’m done! Find that hard to believe? Just check out this video and you’ll see how easy it is to keep him amused with a few kitchen implements.


And of course, the crowning glory of his stocking will be the Clementine tucked into the toe. In his opinion, that’s even better than candy!


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