As I was placing a folded clothing bundle on Daughter #3’s desk this morning I spotted her Christmas stocking in the corner of her bedroom.
‘Brilliant,’ I thought because it’s already D Day minus three for the annual stocking round up in preparation for Santa’s sleigh and filler delights. And it is sometimes harder than you may think to find each girls’ giant sock. Although I know it to be foolish I do not like to ask the whereabouts of said receptacle because I think the question diminishes the Crimbal magic. Why? Stockings are supposed to be between child and Santa, Silly.
I grabbed the stocking from the corner. Horrified, I discovered that it was still full of last year’s goodies. This made me cross. It has also given me pause for thought re Mr Carmichael’s and my contribution to the Christmas Eve, 2012 stocking scenario. Are adjustments to the filling of them required this year?
I remember my first stocking. Made of felt it was blue with further red and white felt bits sewn onto one side. There was also a tiny piece of lace near the top. I think the lace was green.
I wasn’t expecting the stocking because it had not been an annual event in my home but there it was on the foot of my bed when I woke on Christmas morning. I was surprised, excited and unsure as to the format stocking emptying should follow.
Overcoming my lack of sureness I pulled it to me and whipped out the contents. I can remember the wonder I felt at the enormous tube of Smarties (imported from England for Christmas), the two matchbox car toys (I was a tomboy and again these were all the way from England), more sweets, hair ties, a proper whistle and all the while I knew that something utterly wonderful and big awaited my groping fingers in the toe of the boot. I could feel its round largeness through the felt.
It was an orange. An actual orange. I was gutted. Gutted and embarrassed despite being alone. I thought I’d been duped. Well, I had been.
According to my mother, who grew up in the war, it was traditional. I did not grow up in the war and did not like the tradition. But I do know I never told her about my disappointment. I put the orange back in the fruit bowl and vowed that no child of mine would pull an orange, as the piece de resistance, from their stocking.
And they never have. Instead Terry’s has stepped in and provided the perfect nod at tradition in the shape of a segmented chocolate orange. Perfect.
So that’s the toe dealt with. What now?
The tube of Smarties I worshipped is now smaller that the smallest tube of stocking filler candy. So one of those big ones, please. Some chocolate coins scattered through. And of course an oversized lollypop to stick out the top of the sock. Our dentist is rubbing his latex gloved hands already.
With four daughters it is all too easy to spend a queen’s ransom on stuff for the stockings. Small things can be very pricy. Earrings, lipsticks, touche eclat, OPI nail polish, cashmere bed socks, body lotion, body scrub….. Shall I continue? I’m not good at math but I figure I’m up to £130.00 already (that’s very approximately $190.00 US) for each child and I haven’t even added in the petrol, congestion charge and parking fees for a day trip to Selfridges (a Carmichael tradition) to get the special lollypops and a few ‘little, different, special, expensive treats’ to bulk out the overflow.
Daughter #4 mentioned to me yesterday that she’d like some mittens. For a moment I thought the suggestion was not only sweet but helpful. Then she spoilt it for me anyway by adding “But not as a present, just in my stocking.”
The translation of this for all who are not Carmichaels is – I want mittens but I don’t want them to come out of my real present kitty I want them from the Willy Wonka bottomless pit that is the Carmichael Christmas stocking.
And Daughter #3 hasn’t even unpacked most of 2011’s.
When my girls were small I loved the stocking tradition. They would hang them on the fireplace and lay out the dry sherry, mince pie and carrot for the reindeer. I would then sneak upstairs with the booties, stuff them, contents same, same but different, hide them in my wardrobe and wait for childish sleep to enable distribution.
The enjoyment has palled with the ageing of my progeny. What was 11.00pm became 12.00, then 1.00am and then 2.00. At this point in the final year of end of bed stocking placement, my baby was asleep as was her father. Mr C was snoring blissfully fuelled by a sharpener of Santa’s sherry. Meanwhile I was pacing, waiting. This is an old house and the floorboards creak.
Finally I deemed it safe, got two away and crept into daughter #2’s room. She sat bolt upright, I threw myself to the floor at the foot of her bed and onto the stocking. She lay back down but her treasure had been fatally wounded. I could have left it as was but my misplaced motherly sense of fairness meant that I recovered all stockings, unpacked them and spread out the squashed items fairly. I got into bed at 4.15am. The baby woke at 4.30 quickly pursued by her three siblings.
The following year I told my daughters that because of the world population explosion Santa only had time to put stockings outside their bedroom doors and that small step moved my bedtime forward three hours.
It is now time for another rule change and I ponder the level of minimality I can get away with for a Carmichael clan stocking in 2012.
And as always, but more so in this case, all suggestions are ever so appreciated.