The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

Christmas Stockings

By W. Bruce Wright © 1987

Issue: December, 1987

When I was about 5 years old, my Father and my Uncle taught me a lesson about being greedy which I shall never forget.

With the exception of 5 years when I was on active duty in the Army during WW II, I have always had a Christmas stocking. All my life, everyone in the family has had a stocking hanging from the mantel at Christmas.

When I was a small child, my Grandparents always had their entire family at their home for Christmas. Since I have had a family, all of my children and their children have been at my home for Christmas. My mantel is getting quite crowded, but we find room for a stocking for all.

As a child, about all I received were some fruit, some cookies (Sometimes they looked just like Grandma's but that was only coincidence), a stripped candy cane and perhaps a child's soft back book. It was some years later that I found out that it was my Grandfather who always put some horehound candy in our stockings even if we didn't like the taste. It wasn't much, but our anticipation was just as great as if it had been a lot of "stuff." Except for the juicy one in my stocking, the only orange I would see until next Christmas would be a crayon!

The items surely have changed since I was a child. Our stockings now, in addition to some candy, fruit and gum contain some useful items and some nonsense. Toothpaste, nail files etc. plus some silly gadgets for which the recipient has absolutely no use. We have more fun with our stockings than with valuable gifts.

I can't recall how it started but as I stated earlier, I shall never forget it. In the process of hanging our stockings, one of the children complained that another child had a larger stocking. The child who had the smaller stocking feared that the one with the larger stocking would receive a larger portion. The assurance that Santa would treat us all the same did not settle the problem. My Uncle said, "If Santa will give more if the stocking is larger, I'll get more than any of you!" He then got a pair of his bib overalls and tied the legs shut with binders twine and hung the overalls under the mantel. He then told us to get to bed and in the morning we would find out what happened from Santa's visit.

We reluctantly went to bed (I'll never forget the bricks, heated in the oven then wrapped in flannel and placed at the foot of the bed). I had visions of oranges and sugar plums dancing in my head as I finally went to sleep.

In the morning we found that Santa had treated us all equitably, all but my Uncle. We were shocked and horrified to see that his overalls were filled completely with large lumps of coal, not even an orange! My Father then said, "I hope that this will teach you to not be greedy as your Uncle was!"

I hope that my sister, my brother and my cousins have the same vivid memories that I have. If everyone would learn to not be greedy, this world would be a much finer and more peaceful place.