A Little Christmas Story

This past Saturday I attended my book club’s Christmas Luncheon.  Earlier during the week, the vice president of the club came up with an idea for the program I thought creative and fun.  The idea was for each of us to provide something from our own personal holiday experiences, whether it was a memory, a favorite recipe, family traditions, or some other meaningful thing.  She mailed each of us a blank holiday card in advance and asked that we fill it out with our preference on what we wanted to contribute.

The card wasn’t big enough for my windbag tendencies.  True to form, I had decided to share two things, a story and a recipe, because I’m never satisfied with contributing what’s sufficient.

Just like presents, I believe more is better.

Once we arrived, we were to drop our cards in a basket and each member would draw the cards at random and read the contents.

This is the story I shared.  I shared it because it’s one of the clearest memories I have of believing in the magic of Christmas.

My Magic Stocking

When I was five, I recollect going to bed that Christmas eve, (eagerly for a change), so Santa could come. My mother made a big deal about showing me a stocking hanging from post of my spindle bed. This was a mistake.  The sock, actually one of my father’s old white socks she’d looped a red string through, immediately turned into something very special because, as she’d explained, Santa was going to put “goodies” in it, but only if I was asleep.

She kissed my forehead, turned off the light, and closed my door. I lay still for a second.  The sock was there.  Right there at the end of the bed, but shouldn’t I make sure?  I sat up, and crept down to the end of the bed to touch the sock.  I found myself searching, and searching.

No sock.  I sat back on my heels. Something was wrong.

“Mom!”

A scurry of slippers from the other room could be heard, and then, a sliver of light from the living room lamp fell into the room, capturing me at the end of my bed, like a spotlight.

“What is it?”

“I can’t find the sock!”

She came in, went to the end of the bed and found it right away, “It’s right here, see? Lie back down and go to sleep.”

I frowned at her, but, headed back up towards my pillow – at least that’s what she saw. As soon as I heard the click of the door, I crawled right back to the end of the bed, my fingers reaching around the post, up it, down it and over it methodically.

No sock.

The “Mom!” came louder this time.

I heard muffled exclamations. The door opened again.

“Donna, what is it?  No sock?”

I pointed at the post and said, “It’s not there.”

I heard the exasperation in my mother’s voice as she came into the room, “Oh yes it is, it’s here, just like I showed you, see?”

She stood at the end of the bed, the limp, white sock dangling from her fingers.  It was sort of embarrassing.  How come she could find it and I couldn’t?

She made me lie back down, fluffed my covers, handed me my stuffed tiger, and said, “Now, you better go to sleep or Santa won’t come.”

“Okay.”

The light goes out. The door closes.  And you know what I did.  I flew down to the end of the bed.  My mouth dropped.  NO SOCK! This was alarming. This was mysterious. What was going on?

I stared around the room nervously before shrieking, “Mom!”

This time I heard a loud noise, and louder muffled exclamations. The door flew open, the light flicked on with that sort of “click!” made by an “I’m losing my patience” hand. I was crouched at the end of the bed, on my knees, the bottom of my jammies twisted in my fingers. I was on the verge of crying.  Without one word, she marched to the end of the bed, and that doggone sock was right THERE.

She said, “It’s a magic sock! Santa’s been trying to come, but you keep getting up and making it disappear!  This is what happens when you don’t do as I say.  Now. If you don’t go to sleep…,”

“I will, I will, I promise!”

“Okay, then. Good night.”

The door closed and I noticed how it closed too, sort of like how that light switch sounded. Very firm. No nonsense. Still, you know, me being me and all, I couldn’t get down to the end of the bed fast enough. I blew out a sigh of relief. The sock was there. Finally, finally.  I could go to sleep, reassured Santa would come. No need to yell. No need to get in trouble. No need to worry.

Years later I learned my mother was removing the sock each time, then had to bring it back when I yelled, acting as if it had been there all along. To me, it seemed as if it was disappearing, just as she’d said.  It had seemed like magic to me.

And, well, it was magic, because it was all about innocence.

I mentioned I also shared a recipe, and I’m sharing that with you too!  I hope you enjoy!  (I save the egg whites and make egg white omelets.)

Amazingly Good Eggnog

  • 4 cups milk
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 12 egg yolks
  • 1  1/2 cups sugar
  • 2  1/2 cups light rum (optional)
  • 4 cups light cream
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil.  In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour mixture back into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about an hour.  Stir in rum (optional), cream, 2 teaspoons vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

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COMMENTS

  • Carolynnwith2Ns

    December 9, 2014

    Reply

    I love magic, it explains so much, by not explaining anything at all and then comes the results. Wonderful. What a very wise mom.

    • donnaeve

      December 9, 2014

      Reply

      My mother was exceptional at intrigue when we were little. One year we discovered our TOYS in their closet. We went running to tell her, and she said, “Let me see. You stay right here.” A few seconds later she yells, “There aren’t any toys here! Come look.” We looked in the closet, and not a toy to be seen. She said, “See? Santa doesn’t bring toys to kids who snoop.”

      Of course we found out (again years later) she’d shoved them to the very back and threw an old blanket over them. I loved those times of believing.

  • Jennine G.

    December 9, 2014

    Reply

    What a story! I feel like we are always looking to big things to create wonderful memories and such for ourselves and others, and it’s these little moments that we will hold tight to in the end. Events that not many others will hear about and which we have no pictures to record, yet more special than any others.

    • donnaeve

      December 9, 2014

      Reply

      Exactly. She’s built a lot of memories around the little things b/c that’s all we had. She also used to put a stack of Christmas records on for us to go to sleep by. The music of Bing Crosby, Elvis, Frank Sinatra, all of the classics are what I remember. We’d always be asleep before the last record played. And yet again, years later I realize it was to camouflage her and my father making noise rustling packages and setting things out.

      I hold all of this close.

  • Colin

    December 9, 2014

    Reply

    “Magic sock”! That’s so cool, Donna. 🙂 I think my parents realized I was old enough to know the-truth-about-Santa when I asked how it was Santa’s handwriting looked remarkably like my Dad’s. My Mum said it was because Santa had been in a hurry and left the gifts for them to address, but they could tell I was beginning to work it out. I think it was the tone of my question. It wasn’t the genuine innocence of your bewilderment over the sock. I was trying to catch them out, and they knew it. 🙂

    Great memories.

    • donnaeve

      December 9, 2014

      Reply

      You know, I’ve tried to remember when I finally understood there was no Santa. I want to say I was about eight or nine. Sort of like you, I started to question things with that suspicious tone. My parents said, “Well, if you don’t believe, then you don’t get anything. Santa only brings to those who believe.” (A lot like faith in general, right???)

      So I pretended to believe until one year, it just kind of ended, sort of like an unspoken agreement. They knew I knew, and that was it and Mom started saying, “so what do you want for Christmas,” instead of “What do you want Santa to bring you?”

      🙂

  • Heidi Kneale (Her Grace)

    December 9, 2014

    Reply

    With my daughters, from the very beginning, I told them the story of St Nicholas, Bishop of Myra and the story of him giving gold to the three sisters so they could have dowries. I told them how nowadays people will dress up as Santa Claus so they can carry on the generous spirit of St Nicholas. In their eyes, anyone who dressed up as Santa Claus then *became* Santa Claus. (A holiday version of transubstantiation?)

    Because of this, they have always believed in Santa, and always will. I think the terrible rite of passage of discovering there is no Jolly Old Elf who squeezes down chimneys does psychological harm to a child’s ability to have faith.

    I’m going to try your egg nog recipe tomorrow night, but substituting rum extract so the kiddies can have a sip.

    • donnaeve

      December 10, 2014

      Reply

      It would seem helpful to know the real story, wouldn’t it? Instead of the commercialized version we grew up with? It probably builds a lot of little skeptics out there – who begin to question EVERYTHING. Personally, I can’t remember exactly how I felt…although I do recall being relieved presents would still come. (see? I was stubborn AND selfish!) The egg nog is SO good. Great idea on the rum extract!

  • Nicole Roder

    December 10, 2014

    Reply

    What a sweet story! Christmas magic is one of the most wonderful things we can share with our children. Sounds like you have an amazing mom!

    • donnaeve

      December 10, 2014

      Reply

      I do Nicole! She’s loves traditions, and as far as Mom’s go, when it came to Christmas, she and my father splurged. We didn’t get much throughout the year, but at Christmas? The living room floor was usually covered. One year, I remember my brother and I each getting a bicycle AND a sled in addition to our usual dolls, trucks, games, etc.

      I’m baking Christmas cookies with her this weekend – something we’ve done since I can remember.

      • Nicole Roder

        December 12, 2014

        Reply

        Same here! Christmas is pretty much the only time we get our kids new stuff (except a little at their birthdays), and it was the same when I was a kid. Have fun with the cookie baking! I love Christmas traditions!


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