Stockings are what Christmas is all about. All the cheer and joy that is associated with the 25th December can be found stuffed into the stocking.
Not convinced? Allow me to persuade you…
The endless build-up
For the whole of December, all minds are occupied by the stocking. Everything associated with Advent alludes to it. The best Christmas songs mention the stocking. The finest festive mantlepieces feature a stocking hung for every member of the family. And, the most picturesque Christmas trees are bedecked with things in the shape of a stocking: lights, decorations, the works.
As a result, the stocking is shrouded in an air of impatience. As soon as December 1st hits, that nagging feeling of needing to know what’s going to be waiting for you on Christmas morning is unrelenting.
What will Santa bring me? Will I manage to sneak a peek of Old St Nick himself? How many presents will there be? Will I like the presents? Will I finally get that pony I’ve been asking for? These questions circle kids’ minds for 24 calendar-opening days straight. And by the time Christmas morning comes, the anticipation becomes all too overwhelming.
The explosion of excitement
I can’t remember a childhood Christmas morning that I didn’t jump out of bed as soon as I woke up (at the suspiciously early hour of 5am) and sprint downstairs to where my stocking lay, taunting me.
What I’d been waited three and a half weeks for was FINALLY in front of me. The sight of my lumpy stocking lying there, laden with odd shapes, practically inviting guesses at what the gifts inside might be.
The utter joy of finally being able to open your stocking is uncontrollable. And everyone has their own style. Some are so excited that they simply turn the stocking upside down and watch its contents spill out across the floor. Others opt for a slower approach and take gifts out one by one, inspecting them as if they were head of quality control in Santa’s workshop.
There’s just nothing better. It’s pure indulgence. The cavalcade of presents in there are all for you. Are all shiny and brand new. AND have been hand-delivered just to you by Santa himself.
Sure, the big presents (“tree presents,” as my family calls them) are amazing. That guitar you’ve always been wanting. That new XBOX. The jacket you’ve been “needing” for months.
But nothing quite compares to the miniature joys of stocking fillers. The toys. The books. The Puzzles. The mini Lego sets. The seemingly endless sweets. All those small gifts that entertain you for hours and hours on end. Stocking gifts are also an important reminder to kids and parents alike that it’s the small things that count.
The unspoken bonus for adults
The stocking-opening bonanza provides a welcome relief for parents. It allows them a few blessed hours of sleepily sipping coffee on Christmas morning. Quietly.
One year I received a Rubik’s cube in my stocking. And that was me set for the whole of the morning. I’m pretty sure I spoke to no one for at least two hours.
More than just being a distraction, though, seeing your child open their stocking is a wonderful thing. It’s the confirmation that says all the time spent browsing the internet, queuing in shops, battling for the last toy on the shelf, and wrapping everything in secret was totally worth it.
Witnessing their unadulterated excitement as they eagerly rip into their stocking is heart-warming. It brings a contagious joy that fills the room and lasts at least until the decorations come down in January.
And that’s why the humble stocking is the epitome of Christmas. Still not convinced?
Two words: chocolate oranges.