Friday, December 07, 2007

Making Christmas: Stockings & Books


As mentioned in earlier comments, our family has a stocking tradition. Grandma Younce made felt stockings for us kids, decorated with appliques, sequins, beads and ribbon. When Tona (our oldest) married Don, he was immediately embraced by our family, and just to prove it Mom made him a stocking so he'd fit in. It was of a skier whooshing down the slope (Don is a big skier.) Since then, each of us girls have made stockings for our husbands and kids as they come along.

Not being as patient, creative or skilled as the rest of the Younces, this was an intimidating task for me, but important for some reason. So I've stuck with the tradition but recruited some help with each one. Mom helped me with the design and materials for Ed's stocking - it's a red-haired shepherd boy sleeping on the ground with sheep, elk, mountains and a bright star in the background. Sorry I don't have a picture. When we get it out of storage I'll post it. Bless Kat's heart, she painstakingly sewed Ed's name on the stocking in thin gold cursive, when I had given up.

I designed and made Hazel's stocking pretty much on my own, but Tona helped with finishing touches - the "icicle" fringe and binding around the top:During Mom's visit in October we bought the materials and designed Ginger's stocking. I delegated the entire fireplace to her, and she did a super duper job. The name, cookies and milk were me. I feel like I've cheated, using iron-on varsity letters for the name, but I couldn't help it, I just wasn't up for more cursive. Over Thanksgiving we put it all together - thanks so much for your help, Mom!

I know this is the tradition, and I do enjoy designing the scenes for stockings, but I've seen so many beautiful stockings in stores lately that I kind of wish I had an excuse to buy them. Since I don't, I feel it is my duty to inform others there is no excuse for ugly or boring stockings!

In our family, stockings are filled with toothbrushes, lip balm, life saver storybooks, safety pins and other small notions, with a clementine in the toe. This year Hazel and Ginger are getting mittens & tights, I don't know what else. I don't feel obligated to fill them up.

What do you have for stockings and what do you put in them? (I need ideas.)

Tona requested a topic on Christmas books. I hadn't thought of it since it's not a big part of our family culture yet, but I would love her list and anything others have to say on this topic. Last year Mom gave us all The Tall Book of Christmas. This was a book from our childhood that I had forgotten about until seeing it again - a flood of memories rushed in, I love that. I guess it was out of print and then came back. And this year I got Hazel a Christmas book called Christmas Eve: The Joy of Giving. It hasn't arrived yet but the reviews were promising, suggesting it has a smooth incorporation of the Nativity and Santa, with catchy rhyming text and a profound message. Hope so.

"Treasures of Christmas" is a homemade book my Mom created when we were very little - a gold spray-painted 3-ring notebook with cardstock pages containing glued-on pictures from Christmas cards and handwritten text of the Christmas story at a young child's level. It was inspired because it has become one of the most beloved Younce Christmas traditions. The original is cherished because the pictures are from 60's and 70's Christmas cards and are so fun to look at. Mom has since made one for all of us, with the same text and gold notebook, but of course different pictures. At the end of the book is our family's Christmas card pictures from every year - those are so great to look at each year and add to.

What are your Christmas book traditions or discoveries?


Jenifer said...

I'm amazed that I'm the first one to comment tonight! Well, as for stockings. The first ones I made were pretty sorry looking. Way too small and just kind of sad. The next year I started crocheting and made stockings for all of us. We haven't been too particular about names on the stocking. I'm not too sure why, probably because it hasn't been confusing yet. I only had one with my name on it that I remember and we rotated our stockings so it was probably every 3 years that I used those.
This year as we have a new family member and I haven't had time to crochet her stocking I bought some green and red fabric and will be sewing new stockings for everyone. I might even get around to names but who knows. Probably not this year.
On to books. My mom's other favorite thing about Christmas was books so I love to find new Christmas stories. Last year we got the Polar Express and read it with Ethan. We haven't found any new ones this year but I love the following:
The Christmas Candle
The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey
The Tale of Three Trees
I have a bunch more but those are a few of my favorites. We also have a book that is A Story A Day 'til Christmas. Those are fun with smaller kids. I also like the Christmas Shoes but I don't have the book yet.
I will say that one of my mom's favorites that got me to looking at them when ever I get a chance is the Night Before Christmas. She found a Cajun style and a couple others. I've seen a few at the library and they are pretty funny. You really have to get into the accent and way of talking of the area. It is hilarious sometimes!

Maren said...

I love the stocking tradition, and am feeling a little bit sad that I will probably make only one more (for my own kids, at least). I never really liked my own that much (because it has Santa, Frosty, and two random people on it) and have tried hard to make the rest of ours fit into the scriptural Christmas story. Quinn's is the wise men, Sonja's is the shepherd with angels, Laurel's is a dove of peace, and Torin's is the city of Bethlehem.

As for books, ours is a hodge-podge collection mostly of things Mom has given us. A favorite, though, is Night Tree, which I first read at Tona's. We now make it a tradition to decorate the fir tree in our backyard with birdseed, etc and read the book and drink cocoa outside. I also have one called "Christmas Eve" published by Gibbs Smith in SLC. It is a beautiful book of engravings, songs, and scriptural verse. It is basically our script for Christmas eve, though we do read the Treasures book as well.

tona said...

Hey, I don't even own Night Tree anymore. I need it again, I guess. And I am still sticking with my micro-stocking. I do hope there are lots of ideas for what to put inside. I always feel lame going to CVS and just picking out stuff for the sake of stuff. My kids think that chocolate oranges are essential (in addition to clementines).

Our booklist:
Sian Hardy, A Treasury of Christmas Stories (Kingfisher edition) - love this one.
Truman Capote, A Christmas Memory. I cry every time I read it.
Tall Book of Christmas - thank goodness that came back in print.
Henry Van Dyke, The Story of the Other Wise Man
Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey, I second that one. Also we don't own the Three Trees but I've read it and it's lovely.
Shirley Clima, Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel
Tomie dePaola, The Night of Las Posadas - beautiful story of Mexican luminarias
Pearl Buck, Christmas Day in the Morning, illus by Mark Buehner (great version, great story)
Charles Dickens, Christmas Carol
Then we have a couple of anthologies & collections, one of which includes O Henry's Gift of the Magi.

Anonymous said...

Some of my favorite presents at Christmas always came on Christmas morning when all my brothers and sisters would sit down and open the stocking presents. This year I'm going to be putting the new American Idol edition Chicken Soup for the Soul. I think it will be an encouraging gift for all my family and friends. Let me know what books you go with in your stockings this year, and hope I maybe gave you an idea of a good book to add to yours.

Maren said...

By the way, Ginger's stocking turned out GREAT. I love it! I forgot to mention the contents of the stockings. I guess I don't really have any astounding new ideas here. I do use it as an excuse to buy people what the need anyway: toothbrush, toothpaste, other grooming items, Burt's Bees lip balm (just as we used to get Care Deeply), socks, soap, pens, etc.

There's the obligatory citrus fruit, sometimes a candy cane- or at least Christmas candy of some kind- and hopefully one or two surprises. If there are any gift certificates, earrings, or other small gifts, they go in stockings as well. If I'm really stuck for ideas, that person usually gets a brand new puffy body sponge because it takes up lots of room, though I haven't done that for a few years. But, as Tona said, I don't like going shopping for small things just to be able to fill it with things.

Disco Mom said...

OK, I can see we all need some help and inspiration for stocking stuffers! You don't want to spend a million dollars but you don't want useless hoo-hah either. And you need some bulk to fill it up. I did a little googling tonight for some ideas and found a bunch of lists (links below). Surprisingly, I found several ideas for Ed and Hazel (though I might not get them all.) Ginger is seriously getting tights and this big microphone toy from the $1 bin at Target - we already have one and need one for each kid. Since he never reads my blog, here are some ideas I found tonight for Ed:
nail clippers (for desk at work)
thank you notes
tire gauge
calculator batteries
business card holder
desktop one-a-day calendar

New ideas for Hazel:
disposable camera
new sippy cup that looks like adult travel mug (for BIG kids)
nail polish
hot chocolate packet
stamp pads & ink
colored pencils
mini etch-a-sketch
homemade cd

Here are some of the idea sites. You can also google stocking stuffers and see what you come up with - if you find something genius, share!

Fun Stocking Stuffer Ideas
Graceful Kate Ideas
101 Easy Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Disco Mom said...

I forgot another thing I wanted to say. One of the best stocking stuffers I ever got was a complete surprise. Backstory: When we first moved to NY, Ed was in the bishopric and he had meetings at the church Friday night. He would take the train straight from work, then Hazel and I would drive to the church and pick him up. The meetings NEVER ended on time so Hazel and I made a habit of visiting the bakery across the street and buying a treat with loose change scraped up from the car cupholder (it was a tight first year in NYC.) The lady there came to know us and always gave Hazel a free cookie.

So that Christmas I found in my stocking an envelope and in it was what looked like a scribbled-on receipt. I was totally confused. Then I made out the name of that bakery on the top and $15 PAID was written on it. Being a local family business they didn't make gift certificates, but Ed had gone over one night and bought me $15 credit at the bakery. It was so thoughtful it made me cry, I couldn't believe it. It wasn't just the money, it was that Ed had picked up on how much Friday nights had come to mean to us, with the treat of seeing him after a long week, and now we could buy a treat to share with him. It was the best.

Maren said...

Those are great ideas, thanks!

Here's what's in our bags so far:
Girls- MissMatch socks (these are cute threesomes that go together but are not exactly matching, very cute), disposable cameras, lip balm, toothbrushes, toothpaste, candy, bookmarks. And I hope to get a few more things at the grocery store, like favorite foods.
Quinn- teeth stuff, soap, candy, travel size contact solution. Quinn has a stash of office supplies that he has forgotten about, and I'm not above re-wrapping the box of his favorite pens I gave him a few years ago. His bag needs some work.

When we used to do Connie's stocking, it was almost all stuff from the store: mango, hot peppers, various condiments, etc., and when Q and the girls have done my stocking it is usually items like that. Last year I got a coconut. Fun.

tona said...

Speaking of that, do you "moms" just do your own stocking? Kari, I love the story about the bakery credit. That is a keeper.

Disco Mom said...

I told Ed flat out this year that he's in charge of my stocking - I've told him that the last few years and he does a decent job. Since I do all the other Christmas gift shopping he's glad to contribute though it's usually at the 11th hour. This year we fly into CO at 9pm Christmas Eve so he'll have to plan ahead.

Tona - you will not be doing your own stocking this year! I told you on the phone I'm not on my gifting game this year, but that does not apply to Hangens! Package on the way - one simple but awesome family gift and lots of goodies for Tona's stocking!

Mia said...

Those stocking are adorable! If I had those creative skills and helpful resources I might try to make my own stockings. I liked the ones you put a link too as well. I think I am going to look more after Christmas and see if any of them go on sale. I like Maren's idea about making the themes Christ related. If I go with scenes I might try to go that route.

I love the story about the bakery receipt, that really is sweet. It is just nice when the hubby notices something without having it pointed out or flat out told.

We are seriously sparse on the Christmas books. I was hoping that good ol Dolly Parton would send us Christmas related books this month in her Imagination Library program, but alas they were just regular books. I ordered one off of Amazon but can't remember which one now. I want to check out the Tall book of Christmas, looks fun.

kat said...

hey -

the stockings are GREAT! so cute. man, i so have no idea what to put on stockings, if i ever stop being a slacker and get around to making some. :)

for katie's stocking, i'm going with vitamins, sunglasses, nailpolish - she's such a total girl - and maybe a matchbox car - she is a well-rounded girl!

for roger's sock i have no idea.

alexander will probably get some cars and something to chew on besides my face.

my christmas book additions this year are totally secular:
dream snow - eric carle
the 12 days of christmas - robert sabuda
sabuda makes the most gorgeous pop-up books on earth. truly art.

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