Christmastime, for those of us who celebrate, often elicits feelings of nostalgia as we think back to our younger selves and (hopefully) the family traditions that made us feel warm inside. For me, everything about Christmas was welcome—the tree, the sparkling lights, the baking, the visits to and fro, the turkey dinners, and of course, the presents. After all, I was a kid whose wishes were often found in the many pages of the Sears Wishbook Catalogue which usually arrived in our mailbox sometime in late November/early December.
Another favourite of mine at the holiday season were the red and white-trimmed stockings hung with care over the archway of our wood-burning fireplace. I loved the idea that small packages and goodies would always be discovered in the signature felt socks. While I marvelled at larger gifts such as my Barbie motorhome or my Cabbage Patch Kids, I also adored the little things in stockings that were often the most meaningful. So, when two young boys and their parents moved into the acreage across the way, I knew long before Christmas that I wanted to do something special for them. An opportunity to somewhat pay forward my own years of joy and happiness.
At Halloween, I surprised the newly moved-in family with some treat bags for the boys. Given that door-to-door trick-or-treating isn’t really a thing on farms and acreages such as ours, I figured the young ones might miss out otherwise. When I admitted to leaving the bags for the boys on their front porch step, the mom whom I spoke with afterward seemed grateful. According to her, the boys immediately spotted them once they’d arrived home, and both dug into their bags as soon as they were inside. Clearly, she hadn’t been sure of how things worked on All-Hallow’s Eve around here. How could she have known? Aside from what I gave them, I don’t think the two little fellows scored much in the way of candy from others, so I’m really glad I’d done something.
A couple of weeks ago, the boys’ parents surprised me in return by dropping off some chocolates as a thank-you for my earlier gesture at Halloween. I wasn’t at all looking for a return of favours, but it was very kind of them to do so. Had I have not been in the midst of a phone consultation with my physician at the time of their impromptu visit, it would have given us a chance to chat for a bit instead of our simple hand waves back and forth. Nonetheless, I knew there would be other opportunities for conversations going forward since we’d each broken the ice with one another in a manner of speaking.
On Christmas Eve, just as I’d imagined earlier this year, I gathered up two of the red and white-trimmed stockings to deliver to the young lads across the way. With extra stockings at home to spare, buying a few little toys/goodies to go inside of them was a pleasure for me. I’d also found a pair of knit, felt mittens on which I placed letters for each of the boys’ names. The mittens were sewn in such a fashion that they could be used as ornaments for the tree. To identify whose stocking was whose, I hung one of the Christmas-y coloured mitts from each sock. I think every child loves to see their name written out for all to see, especially if it’s on a gift meant just for them.
As I rang the bell to our neighbour’s home, I could see and hear bustling about through the living room window. Sure enough, the boys had quickly gathered at the door next to their mom. True to the sights on Christmas morning at my family home wherein both of my brothers were often running around shirtless, the two young fellows were poised curiously wearing only their plain pyjama bottoms. That precious moment alone had been worth my efforts. Add in their huge grins and wide, brown eyes and I felt as though I was re-living my own childhood sense of holiday wonderment. Immediately, the youngest boy called out my name with a cheery ‘Hi’ in front of it. As I repeated their names and passed over their stockings, that warm feeling fuzzy feeling of Christmases past took over my senses. In return, each boy wasted no time in rushing off to uncover their treasures as their mom once again thanked me. Really, I should have thanked her. Nothing is better than a trip down memory lane. Same with the notion of giving when it is so willingly and excitedly received—at this time of year in particular. I can’t wait to do it again next year!