You Can’t Take It (your stocking) With You! by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman

Everyone on my mom’s side of the family has a homemade stocking. They are made of felt and usually have a snowman with a variety of jaunty hats, vests, buttons, etcetera, and the person’s name in letters along the top. (The exception is the one my aunt made for my grandmother in the 60s which is decorated with many flowers and has the word “PEACE” instead of my grandmother’s name.)

This year, my almost-92-year-old grandmother (Fast Eddy, aka Edna, never to be called “grandma”) made the stocking for my almost-2-year-old daughter. She had some input from me (the usual snowman has a tutu) and some help from my mom (sequins for buttons) and aunt (of the 60s stocking) but mostly it’s her creation and it looks great.

But stocking-making hasn’t always been so straightforward, especially when it comes to inlaws and outlaws (boyfriends, girlfriends, sheep–just kidding!) People don’t always realize that if they’re dating someone in my family and they get a stocking made, they may as well be engaged. On the other hand, if they’re already married and have NOT been made a stocking, they’re either on shaky ground or the person they’ve married has made an unusually bold and rebellious move by not making them a stocking. (Or, it could be one of the guys and he just, um, forgot.)

Sadly there have also been a few mis-made stockings over the years–“outlaws” who received a stocking but never quite made inlaw status. It was always a shock to lose someone once things had gotten serious enough to merit a stocking, but there are a few (now-reformed) heartbreakers in our midst, plus the occasional ingrate who didn’t realize he/she had become “engaged” and casuallly ran off with someone else, so it couldn’t be helped. There were even rumours of name-switchiing a few years back when the boyfriends/girlfriends of certain people had a low survival/fast replacement rate, but I don’t believe it. I’m certain those orphaned stockings were donated to charity or “the needy” or possibly given proper burial, cremation, etc. You don’t get to take your stocking with you, but surely no one would be so cold as to just switch the names out and pass a stocking off as new. Though in hindsight, some of them may have deserved it…

My daughter is crazy about Eddy and I’m thrilled I’ll always be able to tell her about Eddy making her stocking. Hopefully when the tradition passes on to her she’ll be judicious, cautious even, about making stockings for non-family members. And I’m certain she’ll never be so callous as to switch out the names, despite her great promise as a heartbreaker.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all!

Deb Danielle

11 Replies to “You Can’t Take It (your stocking) With You! by Deb Danielle Younge-Ullman”

  1. Danielle! Sad but true – some folks are just plain callous about essential Christmas traditions such as family-made stockings…not that anyone I know would pass on a “pre-loved” stocking to a new romantic partner (of course these days there might be an argument made for re-cycling.) Merry and Happy! Stephanie

  2. Maybe you’d better check with your father and find out if he knows where HIS stocking is. Did re recycle or did he carry on my family tradition!?!

  3. Oh I had to laugh- I knew I was in with Bob’s family the year his mom made me stocking. Sure enough- we got engaged in that year. I think he knew once I had the stocking he was stuck with me.

  4. Joanne: Finn does not have a “real” stocking but we do have a non-handmade one for him and I’m sure he’d flip over your snausages.

    Steph: Unbelievable, isn’t it?! Never you, of course.

    Cindy: Oh, for shame-did he take his with him?! We’ll have to have a talk.

    Eileen: I love it! You never know, homemade stockings could replace engagement rings one of these days.

  5. Aw, homemade stockings rule! This made me cringe-chuckle, because my former mother-in-law was making my stocking when my ex and I got divorced. Luckily, she could easily change my name to the name of my ex’s new wife. (Her name started with a “Je,” also.) 🙂

  6. Very cute piece, Danielle, and Fast Eddy sounds like a riot. I always sort of wondered in my family if I was left out on purpose, as my husband’s aunt knitted stockings for all of the nieces and nephews when he was young, and then carried on doing so for the next generation, so that means I’m the only one in my family without a homemade stocking (of course I’m not a niece or nephew, so I guess that doesn’t count)…Knitting is one thing I never quite got the hang of, or I’d have knitted my own. And of course you can fit so much more in a knitted one, so I resigned myself one year to buying myself one. But I’ve never quite gotten the sense that it belongs on the mantle with the other ones…
    And Jess, what a riot w/ your ex’s next getting your intended “Je” stocking…gotta hand it to the ex-MIL for recycling well!

  7. Having not grown up with stockings I have to say that stockings are one of my favorite parts of Christmas. Even now I fill the kids stockings to the brim and put them out after they go to bed. But the homemade stockings takes the whole thing to another level. LOVE it! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Jess: Ouch! Does the new “Je…” know she has a preloved stocking?

    Jenny: Oh dear, I’m sure you weren’t left out on purpose! The knit ones sound great. Felt has no stretch whatsoever and we’ve often had to use an extra bag on the side.

    Gail: Thanks! There really is something magical about stockings, isn’t there?

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