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Stockings full of cheer

Have you ever had an idea that started out incredibly simple but turned more complicated as time went along?

My twin sister, Trish, and I have found ourselves in one of these predicaments. It all started about four years ago when I had a simple idea to start doing stocking stuffers again.

My brother, James, Trish and I had stockings growing up. Mom and Dad would put Christmas candy and a few gifts from Santa in them on Christmas morning.

As we grew older, the stocking tradition got smaller, but the three of us would still get a healthy handful of chocolate treats and a little gift that usually had practical purposes, like headphones or a flashlight. This continued throughout our school days until it disappeared sometime after high school graduation. We still kept our stockings, but they had been left in the Christmas storage box for several years. It was an understandable shift for my parents. As adults, we no longer needed the Christmas candy and the small gifts. They spent their time and effort on gifts that are wrapped and put under the tree.

Several years ago, I decided to hang the stockings again. I used command hooks around the table on which my parents’ tree sits. For the first few years, we were content just having the stockings as decorations and not needing anything besides a candy cane inside them. What used to be three stockings, now included one for everyone.

On a whim, I decided to pick up some candy to add to the stockings and one larger sweet item like a huge candy cane, thin mint cookies or a big box of Life Saver gummies.

After that first year, Trish loved the idea, and she pitched in for the items. She had the idea to add a salty treat like chips or pretzels and some fruit, usually clementines. This has worked for the past two years.

Both Trish and I are trying to cutback on the sweets, so we wanted to try something different this year. Last year, I gave everyone a tin of homemade caramel crunch popcorn. It was a big hit. So this year, I decided to put the popcorn in decorative bags that fit inside the stockings. It’s not necessarily a super healthy snack, but it will fill space and not be as calorie-filled as the candy we had been putting in the stocking. The original plan was to have the popcorn plus an apple and an orange for everyone. That was it.

Well, at least I thought it was.

Apparently, Trish thought we should do something more. She bought a gift card for everyone for about $15 apiece. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you have nine stockings to fill, it makes the gift card idea seem like a big one. The price tag on the stockings was beginning to triple what we had been spending on them; but Trish was really excited for it, so I rolled with it.

Then I got a text saying she had bought a small gift for both my fiancé Tim and I. She called it a cute, toy-like item. So, Trish sent me on my next mission, finding a small “toy” for everyone else. I only have one more person to buy the stocking stuffer for, then my part of the process will be done.

If Trish comes up with another idea, I’m going to have to say no. I hope our family doesn’t get used to this year’s stocking gifts, because I have a feeling we won’t be doing quite so much next year. I’m thinking I should have suggested giving everyone some of my Subway coupons instead.

Contact Pam Rodgers

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