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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Stocking Stuffers

Stocking pillow tapestry
sentimentalized picture of privilege
Where is the pillow I made?

When I was a child, I don't think I ever received a "stocking stuffer" in a stocking. Maybe others did and those things were not called "stocking stuffers" back then. Even small or cheap things were NOTin the stockings.

Miniatures, kisses, mixed nuts

We got candy, chocolates, fruits, and nuts--that's it!

I remember Christmas from before I entered school. I was born in 1946.  The haul was identical each year:

Hershey's Miniatures
Hershey's Kisses
Assorted nuts
Candy canes
A horrid candy I never ate

If what we got varied, I have absolutely no recollection. I asked my mother when I was an adult with children why we got what we did. She said little bars were best for little children. They look at the number of items and prefer getting lots of tiny items. Plus, she said she could get variety in the Miniatures in just one bag, good thing when she had little money. Mama said she liked all the different candy she got us and sort of laughed.

Back then and for many years, the wrappers on Hershey's kisses were silver for the plain and gold for the ones with nuts. Now, they are festive in green, silver, and red. We always got silver only, what we all preferred, even Mama.

The Miniatures had the same plain wrapper all year. Now, there are four colors--silver, gold, red, green. Silver wrappers are for "Hershey milk chocolate." Green is "Hershey's Special Dark chocolate, mildly sweet chocolate." Gold is for "Mr. Goodbar made with chocolate and peanuts," my least favorite of the four bars. Red is for "krackel, made with chocolate and crisped rice." Yes, they do label them that way.

Right now, I am eating miniatures and kisses. I rotate around the pieces so nothing with disappear with a glut of the other candies left.

We broke out our several little silver hand nutcrackers during the day. We all had our favorites of the mixed nuts, so we traded some away if we could. Even though we lived with 10 acres and pecan trees, we children still were excited by the nuts.

Candy canes were not favored by me, but I would have been disappointed not to receive them.
You may not have seen my Candy Cane post since it disappeared and never went back in a way to be seen. Okay, it showed up.

The oranges and apples were the largest we ever saw all during the year. Size made them awesome and special. You just know Santa had a part in their size.  We had oranges and apples during the year, but never lots just for us to hold and carry around, even in our bedrooms.

The horrid candy was a huge, round mound of sugar covered by chocolate. (What is the name? Chocolate Drops?) As much as I love chocolate, I could not bear the sugary, white inside. I could trade those for all the Hershey's Dark Chocolate Miniatures that I wanted because my four younger siblings hated dark chocolate as much as I hated the chocolate mounds with sugar inside. .

My children never got stocking stuffers. I have no tolerance for people who think they must get extra things for stocking stuffers even though their children have hundreds of dollars in other items. Of course, I never say anything, just force a smile and an appropriate cheerful comment. Cheap junk bought just for a stocking stuffers is not my style either. Hmmm, I suppose I think everything should be edible. When I was a child oranges and apples were eaten almost as eagerly as the candy. My children were impressed by the fruit sizes and ate them along with the candy. They had apple every day year round yet, they devoured an apple that had to be held with both hand! You would think we were "Little House on the Prarie" folk, living slim.

I realize that earlier in 4th Europe, candy, fruit. and small gifts were put in stockings, but their was not a pile of huge or expensive toys under a tree. I am not a Scrooge, but when I hear parents who have overspent agonizing about not being able to afford stocking stuffers, I am troubled. When I hear adults who need to spend more on something, anything, for a stocking stuffer for another adult whenever there a wrapped presents or a present waiting, I feel that the "stocking stuffer madness" is overcoming people.

This post was not meant as a Scroogish rant. I started out to recount my stocking items, those of my children and the stocking tradition in our family. The post started to sound like an anti-consumerist rant. It was not in that vein at all.

The stocking I received, full of nuts, fruit, and candy was such a special memory for me. I recreated it for my children with a minor omission and  one addition, of course. The core of Hershey, mixed nuts, and fruit remained.

Your turn
What is your opinion of stockings and stocking stuffers? Do you have fond memories of stocking contents? Maybe you think stocking stuffers are mandatory? Do you stress over having stuffers and gifts under the tree?


  1. As a child, growing up middle class in the 1960's we got candy and other edibles in our stockings. There was a large Nut Bowl set out at the Holidays with nutcrackers when company came over, so we had fresh DIY nuts then. lol
    The only toy/nonfood Items I remember in my stocker were socks, our family Christmas tradition-you got socks or underwear in your stocking. And on rare occasions if you got a toy that took them, you got batteries in your stocking. If you ran out of batteries during the year, you had to take your own money and buy new ones. ;-)
    One year when I was about 13 or 14(1972?) I got some make-up in my stocking being a teen girl at that time.

    Back when my mom was growing up in the piedmont area of southern Virginia getting fresh citrus was a BIG DEAL! It was not in season at that time of year(and if available was very pricey then) so a precious treat. She also always had Oyster Stew on Christmas morning. Kind of weird, huh? lol Being an only child we got a couple of toys but the bulk of the day was Church and going to her Grandma's and spending time with her VERY large extended family.

    1. Sluggy,
      We still had a nut bowl so Mama and Daddy could have Once and only once, I put socks in my son's stocking. He really needed the socks and had been complaining. I just saved the ones I bought and put them in his stocking. He hugged the socks and was so ecstatic about new socks that I never did that again. IF it had been a tradition, I would not have felt so bad about giving him a simple necessity. I can see underwear and socks as a tradition, something you need that will come at Christmas.

      Children should buy their own batteries! lol

      I doubt that my mother growing up during the Depression in N MS had daily access to citrus fruit. I remember in Little House books that one piece of fruit was a precious treat and pricey, too.

      We never went to church, but we went to my grandmother's house, 90 miles away. Oyster Stew? Yes, is that a Virginia tradition?

      Thanks for that view.

  2. My favorite part of my childhood Christmas was our stockings, delivered to the foot if our beds on Christmas Eve after we fell asleep. I loved waking up in the wee hours to discover the contents..always candy, gum, stationery supplies and hygeine products. As I got older, it contained makeup. My favorite item was a tin (yes, a tin) of watercolores....probably bought for a dime. It had over 100 little cakes of Colorado. I remember painting "masterpieces" on the little note pad I received, until it became sn acceptable hour to go downstairs. (I also got a ream if mimeograph paper under the tree....with two carbon sheets included....what richness....and I am dating myself.) My kids get candy, toothbrushes and school supplies in their stockings. And, as I did, they seem to enjoy surveying the contents in the privacy of their rooms. Sharpies, purchased with Up Rewards will be the heavy bitters this year. Merry Christmas, and thank you for your posts.

    1. Meg B.,
      I wrote this once and lost it...sigh. That stocking in the bedroom sound like a good idea for keeping kids happy and the parents getting another hour or so for sleep.

      My kids, all three, dumped their stocking on the floor and gathered it close to them so another child would not claim a piece of fruit or candy. There were never toys in the stocking; nevertheless, they just had to dump it.

      Those are good memories of the paint set in a tin. Yes, carbon sheets dates you, but in a nice way. Besides, I well remember those.

      I think those toiletries and school supplies and Sharpies make excellent stocking stuffers. I get my Sharpies for a quarter or less at Office Max, but I will have to check Rite Aid for a deal this next year.

      Merry Christmas to you. Thanks. I appreciate your compliment.

  3. We got the usual assortment of candies, but also little toys my mother would come up with. One year there was a small Steiff teddy bear in each stocking. Another year, small (2"x3") packs of playing cards. We played endless games of Solitaire with them on Saturday mornings while watching cartoons. One year small plastic horses for each of us. Jacks sets, tiny pads of paper and pencils, a small china doll, etc. I think my mom really had fun finding something small to add to the stockings each year.

    1. Jane,
      That sounds like a good memory for you. Those would be acceptable stocking stuffers. It does not sound like she went overboard (maybe the Steiff) to put toys in the stockings. She probably planned ahead for that and it was a planned part of Christmas spending, unlike people I hear people discussing the frantic and expensive last minute search for a toy/item/

  4. We really didn't do stockings in our home. Money was tight (often very tight) and we got one present each. And a feast in the evening. Each of us beside our plate had a small bowl which was filled with the things that we particularly loved. A couple of pieces of marzipan for my eldest brother, brazil nuts for me.
    It is Christmas morning here. Happy Christmas to you. A very happy christmas.

  5. EC,
    Some years, when I was a child, money was tight for us, too. Having a bowl of your treat is a different idea, one that sounds like a good idea.

    Merry Christmas. It is about 2 pm here on Christmas Eve.

  6. I feel selfish saying this, but I just ♥ stockings. After Mom died and my husband left me, I felt strangely sad not getting a stocking. I'm so excited to give the BF his this year (although I sense a bit of confusion/urgency on his part to fill mine.. I suspect it's not a tradition in his household). I filled his with peppermint sticks (he loves them), reese's candy, a nail brush (he's a butcher as you know), a football winter stocking hat, bottle of alcohol for his NYE party, and slippers.

    Although, I do LOVE the simplicity of your stocking stuffers. When I have a family, I'd plan to introduce holiday traditions and stockings will definitely be on the list.

    1. makingcents,
      I laughed about your bf's confusion and urgency. I am still smiling. Still chuckling. So, does he get a wrapped gift outside his stocking?

      The joy of Christmas is that (mostly) we all get to form our own traditions or follow those of our childhood that make us happy. Merry Christmas.

  7. Our family loves stockings...We all contribute to everyones stockings.. something small and special.. my son put a picture of him and his sister in hers... my other son gave me a small tin with a promise to never forget to say he loves me.... Stockings are the best part of Christmas morning... we munch on our oranges while we open the tiny treasures........

    1. Linton,
      Those are sweet, personal, and simple stocking stuffers. I absolutely love the tin with a promise!!!! Thanks for that since I have never heard of those kinds of stocking stuffers.

  8. We never received anything in our stocking, although my mom hung them up. I'm not sure I had a stocking, though. My mom left the stockings up in our basement family room all year long. Visiting children would ask why we had our stockings up in July. I was so embarrassed.


  9. Stockings were never really a tradition in my family. I think there were a few in our Christmas decorations, and I can remember us setting them up in various places in the house. (My dad does not allow nails or thumbtacks on walls, and we had no mantlepiece.) Santa never filled them, though. I think we put cat and dog toys in them one year, since Mom insisted that their presents didn't need to be wrapped.

    We grew up middle-class in the 80's-90's, and even though there are four of us kids, I remember having nuts and oranges around all season so they were never really a treat. Nuts, particularly. We had plenty of candy, too, but my parents didn't replace it as quickly as they would nuts and fruit, to encourage us to eat more of the healthy treats and less of the chocolate.

    The amount of presents we received always varied because my parents and grandparents always tried to spend approximately the same dollar amount on each of us. Mom and Dad would make up a minor difference with things like funny keychains or the cheap (back then) paperbacks or the latest copy of whatever magazine we always begged for at the grocery store. Pap and Grandma just put any cash difference right in our gift, sometimes in a small envelope. I loved opening a new book to have five dollars drop out!

    1. We definitely had pecans around all or most of the year since there were half a dozen trees on the acreage. We had much more fruit than candy. Candy was rare, even when we had nickels in our pockets. We had to ask permission to buy a candy bar with our own money.

      I tried to even out the number of presents rather than the cost of presents. If what a five-year-old was just crazy for a $10 doll and the seven-year-old son got a $15 Tonka truck, I figured that even. Finally, when he was about 9, I told him in confidence that he might not get as many toys as his sister because his toys cost more. And, did he understand and not complain? He was ecstatic! I never had one problem with children complaining or even knowing how much their gifts cost.

      I did lay everything out about two weeks before Christmas to be sure the three piles of toys looked sort of even as far as the numbers of gifts.

      We did not have a mantle at any place we lived. Well, a couple of parsonages did, but it was worse than living in a rental living in parsonages. We hung the stocking from a bookcase that is attached to the wall. The bookcase is about four feet from the floor, so I put tiny nails underneath where no one could see them. Then, I took them out after Christmas so kids would not get snagged on them. The filled stockings were then found lying amongst the their respective area of gifts. Santa did not wrap gifts.

      Thanks for sharing.

  10. Replying late but...our family has always done stocking stuffers. Candy, treats, small items. Not every small item is "junk". Now that my kids are adults, when they are home we fill each others stockings. This year I got my son lighters, three golf balls, a miligary history desk calendar, candy, and many, many socks. I received a set of colored pencils and a sharpener, candy, lots of fuzzy get the idea.

  11. When the kids were little I put lifesaver boxes, wrigley gum, pez, a reading book, crayons etc.

    Now, I put socks, homemade soap, an ornament, slim jims, homemade cd, maybe a subway gift card.


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