"" Writer's Wanderings: Christmas Past -- The Purple Stocking

Monday, December 09, 2019

Christmas Past -- The Purple Stocking

[This is one of my favorite stories from the past when the kids were still little.]

I’m a traditionalist. I live in a traditional style home with comfortable overstuffed furniture. I love to cross stitch and quilt. I decorate with the basic Christmas colors—traditional green and red. At least that’s what I did before my mother asked my adopted six year old daughter what color stocking she wanted for her first Christmas with us.
            My mother had knitted red and green stockings for our older three boys. Now that we had adopted Cheryl and her brother, Don, she was eager to begin theirs. Cheryl made her choice loud and clear—purple!
            “Purple it is,” my mother said with her eyebrow raised to squelch my impending protest. The stocking had to be perfect as far as Cheryl was concerned this would be the first time in her six years that Santa might actually fill it.
            She had hung stockings up in past years, but Santa had never come on that special night to put anything into them. The best Cheryl and five year old Don could expect to receive then was a truck and a doll from their social services case worker. The gifts usually arrived a few days earlier or later. The magic of Christmas Eve was never realized for them.
            Anticipation and anxiety rose as Christmas neared. My twelve year old twins, Rob and Ron, and nine year old Andy could not comprehend that someone had never experienced the frenzied moments of sheer joy they found on Christmas morning tearing through layers of wrappings and boxes to find the treasures and desires of their young hearts.
            Because Christmas fell on a Sunday, we decided to change our calendar and have “Christmas morning” on the 24th instead. That enabled me to enlist our neighborhood Santa in a surprise visit to our home on our Christmas Eve. That night, when Santa rang the doorbell, Cheryl flew to open it.
            “Ho, ho, ho. So here you are,” Santa exclaimed raising his arms in surprise. “I’ve been looking for you for a long time. You and Donny have moved to so many foster homes that I had a hard time tracking you down. But now that you have a ‘forever home,’ I know where you’ll be.”
            “My stocking…purple stocking…hanging on fireplace.” Cheryl found it difficult to put a sentence together in Santa’s presence.
            “Well, you’ll have to go to sleep early tonight so I can bring Rudolph and the gang with my load of toys and fill that purple stocking with surprises.” Santa chuckled.
            “You’re not landing on my roof are you, Santa?” my husband chided.
            “Well, of course. Got to use the chimney. It’s tradition, you know.”
            “Just who’s going to clean up that mess the reindeer leave? I’m not.” Bob folded his arms across his chest.
            “I will! I will! I will!” Cheryl shouted, panic stricken that her new dad might dissuade Santa’s return. Santa ho-ho-hoed and left after reassuring Cheryl that he knew the way back.
            To my amazement, everyone cooperated at bedtime. Cheryl and Don were the first to be tucked in since they were the youngest. Then Andy followed quickly. He figured the sooner to bed—the sooner morning would come.
Our preteen twins, of course, held out to the last. Tradition called for Santa to decorate the tree on Christmas Eve. They watched “Santa” begin his work, but not wanting to be totally disillusioned yet, they went to bed before it was done.
Our Christmas morning arrived early as usual. We had been careful to outline the traditional rules to our youngest and newest children. When we entered the family room, we found all five children sitting side by side, the tree lights on, staring at the stockings now lined up at the base of the fireplace, heavy with goodies. They were dutifully waiting for Mom and Dad to come down for breakfast.
“He did come! He did!” Cheryl exclaimed when we appeared in the doorway. She jumped up and down and pointed to her purple stocking.
“So he did,” I said filling with the same excitement I remembered as a child. “Well, get into your stockings and then we’ll have breakfast before we open the big gifts.”
Following the traditional order for Christmas morning, Cheryl cradled the purple stocking in her arms and joined the circle of siblings in opening the little candies, novelties, and fruit that “Santa” had stuffed in those precious knitted stockings.
After breakfast, Bob poured his traditional second cup of coffee to heighten the anticipation, but the kids nudged him into the family room before he could finish it so they could open gifts.
We always take turns with our gifts so each can appreciate what he has received, and Bob and I can watch each expression. After a few rounds, I noticed that the older boys were not busying themselves with what they had opened. Instead, they were intrigued with their new brother and sister. I noticed Ron brush a tear from his cheek. His face reddened.
“This really is the first Christmas for them, isn’t it?” he remarked. I nodded and smiled.
The rest of the day did not follow our traditional schedule since we had already moved Christmas. We attended Christmas Eve service, as we did every year, but somehow worship was much more meaningful. The celebration of Christ’s birth seemed so much more joyous. I realized the love that had been shared that morning in our family was a part of the love that God had shared with all of us through His son.
Well, traditionalist I still am. Each year I hang the purple stocking in the middle of the red and green ones. After all, traditionally the color of purple indicates royalty, and isn’t that what Christmas is all about? The birth of a King?

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