Thursday, December 22, 2011
One thing you could not call my father's family at Christmas was "stodgy". My Granny, Aunt Kat, Aunty, and Uncle Make enjoyed the holiday like no other. And, I have evidence that backs up their tales in my father's 8mm movies of them prior to my own memories of Christmas in Wagram.
Beside the traditional treats and sweets, southern holiday meal, and small town festivities, they had a very unique tradition - stockings. But not just regular Christmas Stockings, oh no. These were like none other I have ever seen or heard about since. They would exchange names and spend the year collecting "goodies" to fill the stocking - a ladies nylon stocking. Since these stretch, by the time they were filled and ready for the big night, they would be four to five feet in length and bulging with the "treasures" they held. Each would be tied at the top with a piece of ribbon and a tag with the recipients name.
There was the parade of everyone coming into the living room, one by one, carrying (or sometimes dragging) their stocking before my Daddy's 8mm camera to be recorded for posterity. This was a site to see. Imagine my very proper Granny, my Aunt Kat with her Christmas corsage on her shoulder, my Aunty - her ever present Salem cigarette hanging out of the side of her mouth, and Uncle Make smoking his pipe (with the pack of Prince Albert in his shirt pocket).
The fun really began when they sat down and began to go through the stockings and open the wrapped gifts inside. Those prizes ranged from wind up toys (which would immediately be put to a test on the living room floor) to outrageous over sized boxer shorts (that would be donned, over the street clothes, for an impromptu fashion show for the camera). The stockings were full of an assortment of gag gifts, fruit, candy, toys, games, playing cards, cheap cologne, bathroom tissue, and other toiletries. And always tied to the toe was some large wrapped package. The ceremony of going through the stockings, opening the gifts, and commenting on each took a while. Needless to say, a grand time was had by all.
When my brother and I came along, we too had our own stockings and there was much competition among the older adults to draw our names. We enjoyed the ritual and found it great fun. But looking back on it, there is little doubt we never could have enjoyed it as much as they did. I am so thankful for Daddy's home movies of those special times. Especially the ones before I was born.