An orange in a stocking is said to represent a gift of gold from Saint Nicholas. Growing up, my brother and I always had a candy cane, a chocolate and an orange in our stocking. I never knew the meaning of the orange and honestly always found it quite odd. Stockings were not a big thing by any means in my family.
As we started to have children, we mixed traditions from both families and the stockings took a whole new dimension. Quantity over quality, source of stress and anxiety. Finding stuff, wrapping it, making sure the stockings are overflowing, and spending on unnecessary items. I have lost sleep over this.
Things took a different turn this year. For the first time, my children have had to split themselves between their parents. I feel sorry for the guilt they are feeling when they are with one parent and not the other. I have experienced anxiety over these holidays and wished they would never come. I am sitting here alone on this Christmas morning, not something a mom of nine would ever have imagined.
I must admit I am at peace as I reminisce over Christmas eve and early this morning with my beautiful bunch. My older daughters are absolute gems and have been pillars through this all for their younger siblings. Smiles, laughter and hugs brightened my little place up. Of course, behind the smiles there is a whole lot not being mentioned. You quickly learn to shove the dust under the rug to keep a good face in spite of your heart being in pieces. My kids need me, they need me to remain strong for them.
My children and I are now making new memories, building new traditions. Maybe the time has come to renew with long lost traditions and go back to a more minimalist approach. The stockings here were not as full as they once were, and it was deliberate on my part. I decided I was not going to try to keep up with the Jones, that I was going to spare myself from the Holidays' extravagant frenzy.
The biggest lesson of this new normal came from my son who insisted with his sister that she put an orange in my stocking. This young lad made a point, a loud statement without even knowing it. I know very well that my children have a good basis laid down and that with understanding, love and a lot of acknowledgement of their feelings we will get through this together.
Son, thank you for being who you are. Thank you for showing me that you know what is essential in life.