Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Christmas Stockings

Handcrafted c 1958-59
The treasured tradition of hanging our stockings brings tangible memories of what we have as well as what we've lost. We've hung our stockings on the staircase, on the mantle, on the wall, and even laid them over the back of a sofa. No matter where we lived, we found somewhere to hang our stockings. A look back through photograph albums shows the year a new stocking was added to the rest and with it the warm feeling of another 'Baby's First Christmas'.

My mother lovingly crafted my felt stocking in the late 1950's when I was only a couple of years old.  Back then, my stocking held hard candy, mixed nuts in the shell, and a Christmas orange in the toe. If it wasn't for the plastic liner sewed between the outer felt layers, there would have been a sticky mess at the end of the season. But all we had to do was wipe off the plastic and then store it until the next year. 

My stocking came with me when I married and so I carried on the tradition by making a stocking for my new husband, Nelson. The year was 1976 and the quality of felt had changed since my mom had made my stocking. Using mine as a pattern, I crafted Nelson a green one. My skills weren't as neat as my mom's, yet as a young bride, I knew the simple act of providing my husband with a Christmas stocking was the start of our own traditions.

Crystal Draper and stockings, 1980
Two years later, after the birth of our first child, I crafted another stocking, red like mine, for our baby girl, Crystal. Again, the quality of felt wasn't thick like mine, and I still hadn't improved my cutting skills, but it was a Christmas stocking made with love and the tradition continued. 

When our next child, Jessica, was born in 1991 crafting felt had thinned to the point that I no longer trusted it, so I doubled the front and back. Because plastic bags had also thinned, I lined the stocking with the thick plastic from a diaper package. This made for a very sturdy stocking - almost too sturdy as it didn't have the same "give" as the first 3 stockings and couldn't hold as much. 

Nick's birth in 1995 gave me the opportunity to make another green stocking. This time, however, I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered that crafting felt was all the rage since manufacturers had started producing a thick, quality product. Nick's stocking was an ease to make, except for cutting out the letters where the 's' still gave me a problem. 

Four stockings handcrafted by Anita Mae Draper, photo taken 2009
By 1998, our 4th and final child, Jeremiah, was born. At the time, we lived in a small house across from our commercial greenhouse operation. It was a family-run business that kept us very busy. Crystal graduated and moved away, taking her Christmas stocking with her. And with 3 kids and the business, I didn't get around to making a stocking for Jeremiah, or JJ as we call him. 

During the next couple of years, both Nelson and Crystal lost their stockings. Crystal's went missing during a move. 

We couldn't figure out where Nelson's had gone since it never left the house. But one day we moved our fridge and there on the floor behind it was a green stocking with clear evidence that a mouse had been chewing on it. Apparently, Nelson had placed his stocking on top of the fridge for some reason and it had fallen behind. The candy and chocolate smell must have drawn one of the errant mice that occasionally live in our unfinished basement because if you look close at the image of his stocking, you can see gnaw-holes near the top edge and smaller ones near the heel. 

A few years ago we retired our handcrafted stockings although still we hang the four of them as reminders of Christmases past, of the stocking that came back, and the one that didn't. 

This week as I was helping JJ hang the old stockings on the wall across from the store-bought bigger ones, I told him that I was going to write a post about our tradition of crafting a stocking as each new member of the family came into it.

Without missing a beat, JJ looked at me and said, "I hope you're going to tell them that I haven't got mine yet." 

Whoops. At 19, JJ should have received one years ago. He's never complained, but clearly he's missing this part of the family tradition. I rearranged the stockings so they'd hang better.  "Well then, one of these days I may surprise you." 

Yes, indeed. One of these days I'm going to make a buy some green, red, yellow and white crafting felt and create a stocking for JJ, or Jereminiah, or whatever name he wants on it. As long as I don't have to cut an 's' I'll be fine. 

What about you? Are there any traditions you followed for years and then stopped? Why?


Anita Mae Draper's historical romances are written under the western skies of the Saskatchewan prairie where her love of research and genealogy yield fascinating truths that layer her stories with rich historical details.  Anita's short story, Here We Come A-Wassailing, was a finalist for the Word Guild's 2015 Word Awards. Her novellas are included in Austen in Austin Volume 1, The American Heiress Brides Collection, and The Secret Admirer Romance Collection. Readers can check out Anita's Pinterest boards for a visual idea of her stories to enrich their reading experience.  Discover more at:


  1. I have both decorated by hand, and made new stockings for everyone in my family since 1976. Mine is a ratty old thing made out of red flannel! nothing like the new ones made of plush. Thanks for sharing your family photos, Anita! I enjoyed this. Merry Christmas to all in the Draper family!

    1. Deb, I've always loved the soft feel of flannel. Our new store-bought ones are plush and although they are nice, the best thing about them is their size as we can put larger gifts inside instead of the fruit and nuts of the past. Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.

  2. Awww. how cute, Anita! Felt is so great to work with. No raw edges! :D

    No decor for me this year, except Christmas cards on the mantelpiece. Ran out of time. :(

    1. Yes, I love that felt doesn't unravel. I don't know if Mom pinked the edges because she was worried they would, or just for show, but I really like the effect. It reminds me of the rick-rack of those years.

      Considering that I received your latest Drew Farthering mystery recently, I can see why you've been busy. You've done well with this series and I'm very much looking forward to reading this latest release. Merry Christmas, DeAnna.

    2. Thanks, Anita! I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas to you and yours! :D


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