Our younger son Jim died in March making this our first Christmas without him. I’ve been dragging about preparations.
Older son Joe and one of his daughters selected, bought and delivered a natural tree on Sunday, providing a subtle nudge. We always have a live tree, just hadn’t gotten it yet.
Another granddaughter came to bring boxes of decorations out of the attic. Another nudge.
Grandson Will, 8, got excited the next afternoon as he and I opened boxes of ornaments and house decorations.
“Let’s hang the stockings.” He hopped and whooped and spun in circles.
When our first child was born, Bill’s mother and a band of her friends made a stocking for this first grandchild, a big velvet foot loaded with sequins sewn individually by hand in those days before sequined appliques. They did the same for our second child, our third and, finally, for Jimmy. Then they did one for Bill’s bachelor brother Chuck.
Feeling compelled, I naturally followed tradition making somewhat less elaborate stockings for inlaws when our three older kids married, then for each of our nine grandchildren, individually as they arrived. Each Christmas stockings stretched from end to end across our mantel, with extension hooks fashioned on bookshelves. We have long had a whole celebration of Christmas stockings. Daughter Brandi made a couple for visitors and a double-wide for Bill and me before she took the four for her family to their hearth.
Then Bill’s brother died. The past two years, I left his stocking in tissue paper in one of the stocking boxes.
Then Jimmy died.
I just wasn’t ready to leave Jimmy’s stocking in the box.
“I think we’ll wait about hanging the stockings,” I told the gyrating Will.
“Why?” He can be a persistent little cuss.
“I’m just not ready yet to leave Jimmy’s stocking in the box.”
“Then let’s hang it.”
“You mean hang it on the mantel with all the others?”
A radical idea, but looking into his cherubic face, I thought, “Why not?”
Both Chuck’s stocking and Jimmy’s are dangling on the mantel tonight along with all the others and they fill me with joy. It’s almost as if the two of them are still here celebrating with us.
When I think about it, I realize, Chuck and Jimmy are caroling this Christmas with the original cast of that first event. Talk about good news!
Sometimes it’s smart to listen to little children, especially at Christmastime.