December 22, 2011

Do you like this?

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without the standard household decorations of wreaths, garland, tacky red bows and a dead tree in a pool of sappy water with electric lights strung around it. And under that matchstick waiting to ignite are wrapped presents poised to either evoke immediate unbridled joy or unintended disappointment–depending on how many hints were correctly interpreted.

But wait! There’s more. The stocking! Ah, yes, the extra-credit bonus gift of the holiday season. Ole Saint Nick likes to fill old socks with fresh goodies, toys, candies and, according to legend, gold coins for those that have been good all year long. Those who haven’t been so good can expect what Charlie Brown got in his Halloween bag at each house–a rock (of coal).

Because this tradition has been ingrained in us since childhood, the Christmas stocking is now something that we as adults have to contemplate filling, whether it’s for our kids or significant others. This can be a task just as difficult as trying to remember the names of Pokemon characters or what it was she said she wanted in the car that time when you were zoned out.   

By design, the stocking is small and odd-shaped. Stuffing it for kids is easy—you stuff the “foot” with a pair of socks, fill with candy and top off with a toothbrush. At least that’s what my “Santa” did growing up. And  that’s what I did for my daughter when she was little.

Now that she’s grown, candy doesn’t cut it. She wants the good stuff, either stuff she needs or stuff that is presumably too small to wrap and place under the tree. As a dad, it’s my job to get her the gifts she wants that aren’t considered “fashion.” This includes computers, iPods, cameras, performance outerwear, tennis shoes, gizmos, gadgets—basically the expensive stuff. So the stocking is where I save money.

Stuffing her stocking is an exercise in the art of display marketing. Sticking out of the top is always something inviting—a small wrapped gift that could be jewelry (but often isn’t) or an iTunes gift card. Then, as she works her way down, she’ll find a few confectionary items (her favorite candies), the necessities (toothbrush, hair ties) and finally the traditional pair of socks-stuffed-in-the-foot that I learned from my parents.

If she carefully removes the items from the top, the reaction starts off strong and works its way down to, “Really? A pair of socks?” But if she does what I did as a kid and dumps the stocking out into a pile on the floor, things change. Digging through the rumble she’ll discover the various items randomly, making the experience a steady mid-level stream of enthusiasm. Needless to say, I lead with the good stuff and anticipate the dump.

For that special someone in your life, however, the stocking poses an opportunity for romantic pay dirt like no other vessel in existence. You know, you’re sitting there by the fire Christmas morning, floor covered in shredded wrapping paper, your lady in the kitchen making you some coffee and eggs—seems like paradise. But once she snuggles up next to you on the sofa, you’d better thank her for all she does with a stocking full of magical goodness the likes of which she’ll remember until next year.

No expense can be spared and no socks can fill the foot. You’ve got to plan this unveiling like you’re about to storm the beach at Normandy. Godiva chocolates, perfume (the one she wears, not the one you want her to wear), soaps and lotions (the kind with fancy labels), the one small thing she asked for in the car that time when you weren’t paying attention and, of course, jewelry.

Now, jewelry doesn’t have to mean a diamond tennis bracelet or upgraded engagement ring. But it also doesn’t mean the $99 diamond dust crap in the shape of a heart that Zale’s is trying to pawn off. Be creative. Handmade jewelry isn’t always expensive, but it’s just about always unique. Look in her jewelry box and see what kinds of stuff she wears. If she’s a “gold” person or a “silver” person, head down to Blue Skies or New Moon Gallery.

You’ll be surprised at how a stocking can be stuffed with more than just feet and legs. Happy Holidays!

Chuck Crowder is a local writer and general man about town. His opinions are just that. Everything expressed is loosely based on fact and crap he hears people talking about. Take what you read with a grain of salt, but let it pepper your thoughts.


December 22, 2011

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