It’s getting to look a lot like Christmas says the song and friends as they post their newly decorated holiday trees and assorted decorations on social media. Every image is beautiful and encouraging to begin decorating. I like deciding whether to be sentimental (hang the antiques from yesteryear) or crafty (make a few), or to consider purchasing new ornaments for the tree. Whatever the case, decorating for the holidays brings on excitement . . . but also the emotions. So it is for me.
My challenge is the Christmas stockings. Seems so silly. For me, it is real and began the first Christmas after my sister and hubby passed away. You see, the knitted Christmas stockings are personalized.
As I am pulling the stockings out, I actually feel my heart sinking further and further away from the joy the season is supposed to bring as I read each name. One by one, I recall that relationship, the memories that I hold, and that sickening, deep-in-the-heart loss becomes overwhelming. With each stocking I do this. Each loss significant, a different part of my life, and that person dearly missed. That personalization, meant to be warm-hearted, caring, and specific for the intended is the exact thing that is emotionally stinging. Life happens, I know. Death (most recent, ‘Grandma’), re-location, change in friendships and relationships, these things are reality.
Each year I’ve attempted to handle this sorrowful feeling of mine in a different way. I’ve not hung the stockings which is particularly sad as they are beautiful. I’ve hung a select few which seems goofy and impossible to make a choice, and I’ve knitted more to the collection and unfortunately have lost those people, too this last year.
The topic of decorating surfaced at Thanksgiving time. Great, I thought. Here we go. I expressed my angst over the stockings. The group wanted to see them and thus began a flow of ideas. Re-purpose them, perhaps cut them apart and use the knitted holiday fabric, wall art of some sort, a cover for something. All interesting ideas, the notion of how to re-purpose them became my new focus.
I began to realize it was the personalization that was the ‘trigger’. What do I have to lose if I just remove the name? I removed the name of one. This is easily done if the names are done in duplicate stitch. It felt oddly, emotionally relieving. I kept going. Literally, as I took the name out of each one, (below is the start) I could feel a sense of acceptance. Acceptance that I could enjoy the beauty of this tradition without having my losses staring me in the face. I could hang the stockings without association. All names have now been removed.
A family (of stockings) that was (were) once but are no longer are currently presenting themselves as a traditional American Christmas decoration along the fireplace. My mind now lingers to the warmth they present and the classic poem, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” by Clement Clarke Moore:
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
Here is an image of the book that was read to me throughout my entire childhood and I continue to read now!
The future of these stockings? Well, that is the best part! Looks like I have a lovely group of stockings already knitted simply awaiting to be re-named and gifted for the next generation!
PS. The book that is the featured image is a coffee table book that comes out during this season and of course, there are many photos with stockings and interestingly, some without names!