Oh boy the holidays are here again! I just love this beautiful season of peace, harmony, and guaranteed turkey. And this year I’m especially excited because one of my fans knit me a stocking to hang from the mantelpiece. Not only can I wear it like a body sock (it’s now my new favorite snuggling equipage), but it’s also like hanging a fabulously chic sign in your home that reads, “DEPOSIT CHARLIE’S PRESENTS HERE.” But all the colors in the design are just delightful− the pink and blue, and red, and green, and yellow. It’s bound to bring a smile to anyone’s face who sees it hanging there.
And because I’m nerdy like that, I just had to know— who came up with the tradition of hanging stockings over the mantelpiece and why? I don’t know, but not only am I going to find out, I am willing to bet it’s a good story. I’m going to hunker down in my sock, put on my research cap, and find some stories.
Ahh… Here it is. Sure enough. A legend. And one that captures the Christmas spirit of hope, love, and the importance of neighborly connections.
Once upon a time, there lived a father who had three beautiful daughters. Christmas was approaching, and he was reflecting on families and togetherness, but despaired that any of his daughters would ever know such bliss. He was so poor he couldn’t afford a dowry for his daughters, and thought because of this, no one would want to marry them. They would be sad and lonely their entire lives, he feared.
Hmmmm. That seems like a pretty shoddy reason to discard someone as a potential mate to me. I tend to go for ladies with great personalities and bushy tails. But I think the priorities were a lot different back then. So, back to the worrying farmer.
Apparently, all the town knew about the family’s situation, and knew also that the man would never accept financial help. So everyone pondered and fretted and stayed up late talking about what to do. Until, one night, jolly old St. Nicholas wandered through the town and overhead the well-intentioned conversations, and set about to fix it.
Relying on the fact that he’s magic, and presents from him don’t count as a hand-out, he snuck down the chimney of the girls’ house late on Christmas Eve, as he is wont to do. He looked around, and they were so poor, they had no tree for him to leave the present under. But, being tidy folk, they had just done their laundry, and hung some stockings up over the fireplace so they would dry. Thinking that would be a fun surprise for them when they went to put their hosiery on in the morning, St. Nicholas slipped some gold nuggets into each stocking, then put his finger next to his nose, and whisked back up the chimney, to spread more largess throughout the world.
The trick worked like a charm. The farmer was overjoyed at the magic money, the daughters had dowries and knew conjugal bliss, and their friends rejoiced. It was a win-win for everyone. To commemorate the spirit of giving and receiving, of having hopes and having those fulfilled by little angels who light up our lives, the tradition of hanging your stocking by the mantel took off and blossomed. And we’re still loving and living it today. I know I am!